The provincial government’s long-anticipated announcement on the future status of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial University’s campus in Corner Brook, came today bundled in a package that included a significant increase in the Grenfell budget and measures to enhance the self-reliance of the west coast institution.
Education minister Darin King and finance minister Tom Marshall were in the west coast city to make the announcement. They were joined by Memorial University officials, Bob Simmonds, chair of the Board of Regents, Dr. Chris Loomis, president pro tempore, and Dr. Holly Pike, acting principal of Grenfell.
The ministers announced a $6.5 million (or 38 per cent) increase to the base budget of Grenfell. The government has also requested that Memorial’s Board of Regents implement a number of changes designed to enhance the independence of Grenfell within Memorial. These include:
• Changing the name of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College to “Memorial University of Newfoundland – Corner Brook” to better reflect its existing status as a university and to enhance its unique identity within Memorial;
• Submitting a separate budget to government for Grenfell through the Board of Regents to allow independent budget processes and priority setting; and,
• Positioning the principal of Grenfell on Memorial’s Senior Executive Committee, reporting directly to the president of the university.
“Grenfell has already proven that it is capable of great things and this is an opportune time to build on its current success,” said Minister King.
The Memorial University group welcomed the announcement and indicated support for the various measures requested.
“Government’s review and decisions on this important matter have brought much-needed clarity to the path forward for Grenfell’s further development and growth within Memorial University,” said Dr. Loomis. “This infusion of resources will help create the conditions for growth and further success at our Corner Brook campus.”
Mr. Simmonds echoed that sentiment: “Our goal is unwavering – to grow Grenfell in terms of enrolment, programs and research, with the focus on its tremendous strengths, while recognizing the needs of Grenfell within the Memorial University of Newfoundland community,” he said.
Dr. Pike added: "The changes Minister King announced today give us the resources to support marketing, recruitment, research and student supports. These, along with greater local control of our fiscal planning, are among the important initiatives that we identified in our strategic plan which will move us toward greater autonomy," she said.
The new government funding will support priorities identified by Grenfell, including:
• Enhanced marketing and student recruitment efforts, including an international office to attract students and identify new markets with the greatest recruitment potential;
• Five new positions to attract increased research funding and additional positions in student support services and administrative support based on Grenfell’s strategic planning process;
• Annual funding in the amount of $1.6 million to eliminate Grenfell’s existing operating deficit; and,
• The establishment of a Grenfell Secretariat, located in Corner Brook, to support Grenfell as it implements key priority areas for growth.