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REF NO.: 93

SUBJECT: Memorial’s leaders report to White Paper Commission
DATE: Nov. 3, 2004

Memorial University’s senior leaders met with the provincial government’s Commission on Public Post-Secondary Education on Oct. 18 to discuss the university’s role in higher education and in the future development of the province.

Memorial’s Senior Executive Committee (SEC) presented a formal report to the commission, which is chaired by Dr. Wayne Ludlow, and participated in a facilitated discussion concerning post-secondary education. The SEC consists of president Axel Meisen; Dr. Eddy Campbell, vice-president (academic); Dr. Chris Loomis, vice-president (research); Kent Decker, vice-president (administration and finance); Dr. Lilly Walker, dean of student affairs and services; Victoria Collins, director of University Relations; and Margot Brown, executive director of the Office of the President.

Important process

Dr. Meisen reflected on the importance of the White Paper process. “The White Paper will shape public policy regarding higher education in this province for the next decade and perhaps beyond,” he said. “The process of developing the White Paper is very important, not only to Memorial University but to the entire province, because the university is integral to our social, cultural and economic development. The White Paper will have far-reaching consequences.”

The SEC report to the commission is titled Transforming Aspirations into Reality and contains nine recommendations (plus sub-recommendations) covering everything from the size of the university, to funding, research, partnerships, governance and accountability.

“Memorial University is recognized as an important institution, arguably the most important institution, through which the aspirations of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador have been and will continue to be realized,” said Dr. Meisen. “Our report builds on this notion and presents a case for the kind of university that we think is needed if the province and its citizens are to prosper. In keeping with the objectives of the commission, the report provides a basis for creating public policy on post-secondary education. The report was not written as a strategic plan for Memorial University. A strategic framework will be developed later and only after extensive consultation both inside and outside the university.”

Future of the province

Dr. Meisen said the SEC felt it was important to place the university in the context of the future of the province. “We do not think that the status quo is appropriate,” he said. “While a recent public opinion poll showed that Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are well satisfied with the performance of Memorial University, it is also clear that the university must continue to improve. This means more students with more diverse backgrounds, more research, as well as expanded partnerships with the College of the North Atlantic, other universities and private and public organizations. We believe we can create a university that is globally competitive, yet still acutely responsive to the educational and research needs of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Funding important

The president indicated that the development of the university is reliant on stable funding. “We have two main sources of funds to operate the university – the annual grant from the provincial government and student tuition fees,” he said. “Our challenge is to find the financial resources necessary to build a globally competitive university that guarantees the high quality of education demanded by Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.”

The report identifies a number of strategies to raise additional revenue to support the university’s continued development. These include raising a university bond issue and undertaking a fund-raising campaign. They also include recruiting more adult students, more expatriate Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and their descendents and more students from other regions of Canada and internationally. “It is clear that the recruitment of students is a very effective way of overcoming the problem of an aging and relatively small population in the province,” said the president.

“With respect to research, we are proposing that the provincial government create a seed fund to stimulate research and development, thereby adding to the economic activities in the province,” said Dr. Meisen. He noted that Memorial University conducts more than 60 per cent of the research and development in the province. The seed funding will lead to more federal and private sector support and will be directed to growing research across disciplines, including humanities and arts. “More research funding means an expanded R&D sector in the province, more internationally competitive industries and creating more and better jobs,” he said.

The SEC report to the commission, developed with input from the university community, is posted on the web at www.mun.ca/whitepaper.

Other university units were invited by the commission to present reports including the Board of Regents, the Senate, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, the Marine Institute, the Faculty of Medicine and the School of Nursing, among others.

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