Conestoga joins Brantford’s ‘Academic Row’

Matt Mente, News Editor

Yet another post-secondary institution is marking its place in what is becoming Brantford’s “Academic Row.”

Wilfrid Laurier University, Conestoga College and the City of Brantford came together at the SC Johnson Building on Laurier’s Brantford campus to announce a new partnership between Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College, Monday.  And they are taking no time in getting the partnership off the ground.

Beginning in the upcoming fall semester, Conestoga will be offering two courses in downtown Brantford.

The first is a two year business diploma, the other a one-year post-graduate certificate in human resources management. Though the course offerings are modest, Conestoga plans to expand them as much as possible with current areas for growth including business, media, health, and community service.

Wilfrid Laurier University and Conestoga College already have a working relationship, with many journalism students travelling to Conestoga’s campus in Kitchener in their third year. There is no doubt that there will eventually be a push for Conestoga to bring those programs to Brantford so students can stay in place for the duration of their four year degree. Each program is expected to house somewhere between 20 to 30 students, said John Tibbits, President of Conestoga College.

Everyone present at the announcement was very positive about this development.

Tibbits described the next year of the partnership as modest, saying that it was “good to be prudent” Tibbits also cited Brantford’s rapid growth as one of the primary reasons for Conestoga to move into the city.

Brantford Mayor Chris Friel described this partnership as, “the next step in a wildly successful experiment,” and though the city plays little role in this arrangement  Friel did cite the city’s solid partnership with Wilfrid Larier University as contributing to the decision.

Friel commented on when he and city council first elected to give Laurier two million dollars to refurbish the Carnegie Building.

“The city had invested two-plus million into the Carnegie Building. Then I’m hearing that it was going to have 39 students. I remember thinking I was going to be sick on my desk. But we all hung on,” Friel said.

He also described Brantford as a “21st Century city, a corner stone of which is education”

Laurier President and Vice-Chancellor Max Blouw hopes that this partnership will facilitate a ready and transparent way for students to move through the system” He also explained that there may be more focus on having student enrol in summer courses in order to provide more choices for students.

Blouw also stated that the upper limit of Conestoga’s presence in Brantford would be determined by student participation in their programs.

At present, the partnership is in its early stages and many details are still being worked out.

According to Kevin Klein, Laurier Brantford’s External Relations Coordinator, Conestoga will probably be working out of a shared space with Laurier Brantford next year, possibly in the Carnegie Building.

The addition of Conestoga to Brantford makes it the fifth post-secondary institution in the area, Friel said, citing Laurier, Nippissing University, Mohawk College, and McMaster University, whose medical sciences program offers placements in Brantford.

Conestoga currently has approximately 55,000 students at campuses in Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Stratford, and Ingersoll.

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