Officials at Sudbury’s school of architecture will begin interviewing potential faculty members next week, just as the final major piece of funding is in place from the federal government.
FedNor Minister Tony Clement announced $5 million for the school at a morning press conference Sept. 21. That brings the fundraising total to $41.35 million, very near the final goal of $42.6 million.
“I’m so excited!” said Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk, who hosted the announcement, held at St. Andrews place. “Today we take another important step forward on the road to Laurentian University’s downtown school of architecture.”
Matichuk said the school will bring 400 students downtown, helping revitalize the area both visually and economically.
“The new school will enhance Sudbury’s reputation as a major centre for post-secondary school education and will bring a new vitality and buzz to the city’s core,” she said.
In his remarks, Clement began by recognizing his former colleague at Queen’s Park, Floyd Laughren, the longtime Nickel Belt MPP and finance minister in the government of former NDP Premier Bob Rae. Laughren, chair of Laurentian’s board of governors, has played a big role in bringing the school of architecture to Sudbury.
“It’s always good to know there’s life after politics, just in case,” Clement quipped, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
Clement then got down to business, announcing $5 million for the school, and talking about the social and economic role the school will play in the North.
“I don’t have to tell you how important Laurentian is to breaking down barriers and helping redefine, really, all of Northern Ontario as a leader in education and research and innovation,” he said. “Our government recognizes the unique challenges that Northern Ontario communities and businesses face. As minister, I take that very seriously.
“By helping establish Canada’s first new school of architecture in more than 40 years right here in Northern Ontario, our government is delivering on its commitment to develop a competitive and diversified economy.”
In addition to revitalizing downtown, Clement said the school will help boost the lumber sales through its use of a laminated lumber product in the construction of the school.
“It will also help protect and strengthen the long-term viability of Northern Ontario’s forestry sector, by promoting and encouraging the use of wood products as part of the ongoing school curriculum,” he said.
At seven years, Clement is now the longest serving FedNor minister since the post was created 25 years ago.
“I want you to know what an honour that is, to have that responsibility for such a long time,” he said. “And I hope to keep up the winning streak for a few more years.”
Dominic Giroux, Laurentian’s president and vice-chancellor, used a Star Trek reference to refer to the ministry’s 25th anniversary.
“May FedNor live long, and prosper,” he said. “Minister Clement showed his enthusiasm for this project from Day 1 ... And this investment represents the final significant piece of capital costs required to create our landmark building in downtown Sudbury.”
Giroux said they’ve also raised significant dollars for students.
“We’ve also raised half a million dollars for scholarships and private gifts to support the school, and there’s obviously more to come,” he said.
He also referenced the use of the specialized wood in the construction of the school’s west wing.
“And I know what you’re thinking when I say west wing. It won’t be white,” he said. “This demonstration project with cross-laminated timber will inspire new uses for softwood in construction. And it will support the development of these engineered wood products right here in Canada.”
Terrance Galvin, the school’s inaugural director, said he’s been struck by the passion of the people working to make the school a reality.
“Every single person that has gotten involved is doing more than just a job,” Galvin said. “And I think that’s a very good indicator of (community support.) It’s a bit like building a gothic cathedral. Everybody’s involved and is with us for the long-term. And that’s a very good feeling.”
And as part of the school’s effort to be part of the community, Galvin said interviews with potential faculty members will be open to the public,
“For the next eight weeks, different candidates are coming to speak,” he said. “We’re not just having those interviews in a room with the selection committee. We’re making those public talks, starting at 5:30 p.m.”
The $5 million will enable Laurentian to finish construction of a new, 65,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility that will include classrooms, lecture and exhibition halls, offices and specialized educational spaces such as labs, studios and workshops. The investment will also help the university renovate two existing buildings to accommodate its space requirements. The school is being built on Elgin Street, taking over the former Market Square building.
The funding is provided through FedNor’s Northern Ontario Development Program, which supports projects that strengthen community economic development, enhance business development and growth, and facilitate innovation throughout the region.