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Post-Secondary Education CALL TO ACTION

October 5, 2007

[The following letter went out today to UNB Alumni:]

Dear Fellow UNB Alumni,

Last week I sent a note to UNB alumni referencing the final report from the Commission on Post-Secondary Education (CPSE) and its potential to have a profound impact on UNB’s future. Much has happened in the week since and I want to keep you up-to-date on progress and issue, as your President, a call to action.

At meetings of the Alumni Council (the Association’s governing body) last weekend, there was much discussion about the future of UNB, in light of the CPSE Report. It is a widely held belief among your elected and appointed councilors that New Brunswick’s long-term success and self-sufficiency is dependent on having a national university that is closely aligned, integrated and partnered with the community colleges to meet the demands for well-trained workers in applied fields and also for university-trained professionals to lead, manage and grow the key industries that will fuel New Brunswick’s self-sufficiency over the next two to three decades. And Saint John, which will be the hub, the central place where key self-sufficiency industries, such as energy and healthcare, will be based, needs to have both a strong university and community college presence.
A university is not only about education and research. It is also an engine in the overall creation of wealth for communities and the province as a whole. A university provides highly-skilled career opportunities for people from all over the world as well as cultural and societal enrichment for the communities they serve. A university is a centre of innovation, critical to all sectors of commerce and public service. These are all characteristics that attract new people to growing communities. Attracting new residents and growing our population is critical to New Brunswick.

UNB is the largest university in New Brunswick today. Firmly established in both our provincial capital and our largest city, UNB conducts 80% of the province’s research and has educated and trained over 30,000 post-secondary graduates living and working in the province. UNB is the province’s national university. This is a foundational component not only for the future of post-secondary education, but also for self-sufficiency and the continued development of New Brunswick as a player on the Canadian stage.

UNB is very powerful in international markets because of the fact that it is one of the oldest universities in North America. UNB has a strong brand among universities in Canada, based in part on age, recognition of certain disciplines like engineering and bio-med, and size. The Saint John campus is the only small campus that offers access to graduate teaching and supervision, and can recruit the best faculty and students. That can only happen because the Saint John campus is part of UNB.

That said, UNB does need to be transformed. There must be consistency between the two main campuses and strong inter-organization processes with the community colleges to enable the highest quality student experiences and to create efficiencies and competitive advantages within the system. There must be equity between the two main campuses to ensure adequate investment in both, so that each may continue to innovate and meet the demands of students and of the growing communities for which UNB is a foundation.

Last weekend, the Alumni Council passed a motion approving the following principles regarding the CPSE recommendations and the future of New Brunswick’s post-secondary education system:

The UNB Associated Alumni:

  • does not support the conversion of UNB’s Saint John campus to a polytechnic
  • supports UNB as a national university with main campuses in Saint John and Fredericton
  • supports a significant expansion of the partnership with the New Brunswick Community College Network
  • agrees that the New Brunswick Post-Secondary Education System must be student centric and financially accessible
  • advocates greater consistency and equity between UNB’s two main campuses
  • will speak broadly as one voice with local leadership in Saint John coming from the Saint John Alumni Action Team

Many of you have written to me in the past week asking what you can do to help. We must let the provincial leaders know what we, as the province’s largest alumni body, believe is the right path, not only for UNB but for New Brunswick. Time is of the essence as the Premier and his cabinet will be making decisions during a caucus meeting on Oct 16th.

I urge all of you to take action. New Brunswick’s future is important to all of us. Whether you live here or elsewhere, at one time in your life, this was your home. Let the New Brunswick politicians know what you think. Write to the Premier (premier@gnb.ca) and/or to a provincial MLA (http://app.infoaa.7700.gnb.ca/gnb/pub/ListMLA1.asp) and let them know that a strong UNB is critical to New Brunswick’s self sufficiency agenda. Let them know that the main campuses in both Fredericton and Saint John (along with UNB’s presence in Moncton, Bathurst and other parts of New Brunswick) are critical to UNB’s success as an engine for New Brunswick. Anything less is unacceptable.

Let us continue to work together and be a strong voice (there are close to 63,000 UNB alumni) that advocates for New Brunswick and its National University – the University of New Brunswick.

Kind Regards,

Kevin Ferguson
President
UNB Associated Alumni

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