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Memorial Welcomes White Paper Findings

Dr. Axel Meisen responds to media questions following the release of the provincial government’s white paper.

Officials at Memorial University welcomed the findings and recommendations contained in the provincial government's white paper on post-secondary education. The white paper was released at a news conference July 7 by Education Minister Tom Hedderson and white paper commissioner Dr. Wayne Ludlow. The white paper process, started in 2004, examined a wide range of issues regarding Memorial University and the College of the North Atlantic.

"We are delighted that the government has published the report after about a year of extensive consultations and careful study," said Dr. Axel Meisen, president of Memorial. "This report is a strong endorsement of the importance of the province's post-secondary education system to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador. The government clearly supports the one-university, one-college system for this province. It also makes it clear that the government is willing to fund Memorial University so that it can operate at internationally competitive standards of quality. "I want to thank the commissioners Dr. Wayne Ludlow and Cyril Farrell for their hard work on this important initiative."

Dr. Meisen also welcomed government's decision to provide the university with a three-year budgetary horizon. Such a horizon, he said, will help the university plan its development in an orderly fashion. He noted that the government has re-committed itself to maintaining a tuition freeze and to providing Memorial with funding to offset the impact of the freeze. The university will also receive a much needed increase to its base grant over $30 million in total over three years including an allocation to Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook of $1 million per year for three years.

"The recommendations and policy directions provide a strong foundation for advancing Sir Wilfred Grenfell College and its role within Memorial University and its commitment to the citizens of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Dr. Wade Bowers, associate vice-principal (research) at Grenfell College.

The report recommended that the university review the administrative and governance structure for Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. Dr. Meisen said that this is already underway. "A commission chaired by Dr. George Ivany is exploring governance and reporting issues for Sir Wilfred Grenfell College," he said. "We expect to receive the commission's report in the near future and will make it public, perhaps as early as the end of July." The white paper report encourages the university to work collaboratively with the College of the North Atlantic (CNA).

"This recommendation is consistent with Memorial's current approach," Dr. Meisen said. "We look forward to exchanging expertise with CNA in areas such as student services, residences and library services." In accordance with one of the white paper recommendations, Memorial University will examine the feasibility and desirability of creating a "Faculty of Health Sciences." Dr. Meisen said that this feasibility study will be done in close collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine and the schools of Social Work, Pharmacy and Nursing, bearing in mind the needs of all of these professions.

The report also commented on Memorial's research capacity and the government committed to a substantial increase in the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF). In total, government is putting another $22.5 million into the fund over the next three years. This fund will help the university leverage more dollars, thereby enhancing its research activities and contribution to the provincial economy. Dr. Meisen noted that the white paper is being released shortly after the university embarked on the development of a new strategic framework. "This framework, which will guide the university's evolution in the next five to 10 years, will greatly benefit from the information and policy directions laid out in the white paper."

The complete white paper report can be found at www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/whitepaper. For more information on the white paper process at Memorial and on Memorial University's ongoing strategic planning process, see www.mun.ca/strategicplanning.

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