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Memo from President John McLaughlin

October 5, 2007

Special Announcements
Memo from President John McLaughlin: Formal Response to Commission on Post-Secondary Education in New Brunswick
To the University of New Brunswick Community
From John McLaughlin President

Following extensive input from faculties and departments, we are working quickly to finalize our formal response to the recommendations of the Commission on Post-Secondary Education in New Brunswick. We have received a lot of information and will be distilling that data into a brief document to be completed the week of October 9. This document will support our argument for a strong UNB in Saint John that provides more opportunities for students, researchers and community interests. Without UNB Saint John, the University of New Brunswick’s status as a national comprehensive university will be in jeopardy. The Province of New Brunswick must continue to have a national comprehensive university in order to fully participate in a globalized economy and ensure that the provincial government’s self-sufficiency agenda can be realized.

There is no question that as a province, we must address some critical issues facing post-secondary education. We agree with some of the Commission’s recommendations, particularly in the areas of:

• financial aid to students,
• transferability of credits,
• simpler and clearer enrolment processes through one portal, and
• greater recruitment of international students.

We do not agree with the proposed polytechnic model for Saint John. Here are the most important reasons why:

1. Research capacity is important for funding. With very few exceptions, national funding agencies only support universities. Local research presence will be diminished with the loss of UNB Saint John, and UNB will be weakened overall.

2. Opportunities and choice for students must be protected for those who want a university education locally, and international students who will not come to Saint John to attend a polytechnic. We have to ask hard questions about what the student market wants – and ensure we are fulfilling this or they will go elsewhere.

3. The University of New Brunswick is a significant partner in regional and provincial efforts to achieve self-sufficiency. We are in full alignment with the broader growth agenda for Saint John and New Brunswick with links to True Growth, an attractive community, arts and culture, population growth and immigration, uplifting vulnerable neighborhoods, enhancing literacy and economic growth.

4. The contributions we make towards these goals must be protected.

Going Forward

Maintaining UNB’s Saint John campus is not about maintaining the status quo. We know we need to change while building on the strengths of this institution.

We must continue to build on our history of partnerships with other post-secondary institutions, research entities and private-sector organizations. We are currently engaged with dozens of partners at the local, national and international level, including joint activities with the Atlantic Health Sciences Corporation, New Brunswick Community College, Humber College, College of the North Atlantic, J.D. Irving Ltd., Irving Oil, Aliant, Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada and many others.

We must continue to be a partner in Saint John and New Brunswick’s immigration strategy. In 1999, we embarked on a journey of internationalization, building an annual student contingent of 700 students from 50 countries. Today, we continue to diversify our international efforts and have been recognized nationally for excellence in internationalization.

We must allow for a broad range of opportunities for students while building on existing areas of strength including research, applied programs and coop programming, among others.

UNB Saint John is an equal partner in the UNB system and must be funded appropriately with a funding formula that allows for New Brunswick’s post-secondary institutions to compete on a level playing field.

Our proposed alternative to the polytechnic model is one of co-location and not a merger. UNB, in partnership with an expanded community college, the regional hospital and other partners can come together in close physical proximity, and build innovative programs that meet and anticipate the needs of students and the community.

• Co-location partners will retain their autonomy and their own identities and grow in their own right, and at the same time promote a strong collective identity.
• Co-location partners will be responsible to each other through legally binding and contractual agreements.
• Co-location will provide more choice for students, promote innovation and operational efficiency and build on established institutions that rely on critical mass for growth.

Our governance model must protect academic integrity and be able to anticipate and respond to the evolving needs of our students and communities.

What Next?

We are meeting with community partners and organizations to build consensus for a co-location model that allows for UNB Saint John to exist as a regional centre of excellence while preserving liberal arts and sciences. To date, we have been invited to sit on post-secondary education response task forces with the City of Saint John, the Student Representative Council and the Saint John Board of Trade. There is consensus for the continued existence of UNB Saint John and the need for co-location with an expanded New Brunswick Community College.

We will be presenting our vision for a new post-secondary model in Saint John to members of the provincial government. This will include detailed information about governance, funding and budgetary considerations.

We are continuing to monitor third-party political and grassroots support. A number of organizations have made very strong public statements of support for UNB, including student unions in Fredericton and Saint John, the Associated Alumni, the Association of UNB Teachers, CUPE and many others. In a recent Corporate Research Associates poll, more than 85 per cent of respondents in Saint John were strongly in favour of a “strong university presence in Saint John.” More than 3,700 people have joined a Facebook group called “My Saint John includes UNBSJ” and more than 2,000 people have signed an online petition. We are grateful for the strong show of support.

Maintaining a strong UNB is not merely a UNB issue, nor is it simply a Saint John issue. This is a provincial issue – indeed a national issue. A strong UNB is critical to a strong New Brunswick. UNB must continue to build and evolve from its base of operations in Saint John and Fredericton so that it can continue to provide liberal arts and sciences, applied programming, research, recruitment and cultural influence that New Brunswickers have come to rely on from their national university. The long-term well-being and stability of New Brunswick is at stake and a unified UNB must be resourced and valued for the crucial role it will play in the future of the province.

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One Comment
  1. Maziar permalink
    October 11, 2007 12:06 pm

    Dear Mr. President:

    We members of Saint John community heard that just a few weeks ago at the assembly, at the University of New Brunswick – Saint John, you with a chocking voice and tears in your eyes promised students, staff, faculty and the community that you will travel across the Province and explain to the people of New Brunswick why the PSEC report was bad and why the University of New Brunswick – Saint John should not turned to a polytecnic. Can you tell the people of New Brunswick and Saint John community wahat have you done since then? What have you accomplished so far? The only thing have been heard is that you during a radio interview in Fredricton have said that you support the idea of polytechnic. Is it true Mr. President? If it is, why? Can you tell those who are starting to wonder whether you really want to save our University, both campuses and start to think that the “leak” was a planned leak and the chocking may have been a staged emotion, why shouldn’t they think this way? we expect an answer, not explanation Thank you.

    Respectfully, an exteremely concerned citizen.

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