Study on fea­si­bil­ity of new univer­sity in Tim­mins

The Daily Press (Timmins) - - LOCAL NEWS - LEN GIL­LIS

If Tim­mins wants to move for­ward with the cre­ation of a new English lan­guage univer­sity, it is go­ing to take huge com­mit­ment, ded­i­ca­tion and per­se­ver­ance above all re­sis­tance.

That was part of the mes­sage this week from aca­demic ex­pert Dr. Ken Coates, a Canada Re­search chair­man in Re­gional In­no­va­tion at the Grad­u­ate School of Pub­lic Pol­icy at the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan.

He was speak­ing to Tim­mins city coun­cil as he is in the midst of pre­par­ing a re­port at the re­quest of the North­ern Pol­icy In­sti­tute, which has of­fices in Sud­bury, Thun­der Bay, Sault Ste. Marie and Kenora.

Coates said he has been asked to un­der­take what he called “a fairly quick” two-month study into the fea­si­bil­ity of an English lan­guage univer­sity in Tim­mins.

“I am at the very early stages,” he said. “I am ac­tu­ally here on an in­for­ma­tion-gath­er­ing ex­er­cise. I am not here to tell you what my con­clu­sions are. I am here to ask for your help and sup­port.”

He said challenge he is fac­ing in his man­date is to do an ev­i­dence­based study.

“So this is not a study or a sort of re­port to the world on what the mayor might want, what coun­cil might want, what city staff might want, but ac­tu­ally what makes sense.”

He said the idea would have to “make sense” eco­nom­i­cally, po­lit­i­cally and ed­u­ca­tion­ally.

“So my job is not to ad­vo­cate for any one po­si­tion but to find out what works and what would not work in this par­tic­u­lar en­v­i­ron- ment,” he added.

Coates said sev­eral op­tions might be con­sid­ered as part of the study, such as a free-stand­ing group of build­ings with labs and class­rooms; it could be a satel­lite fa­cil­ity af­fil­i­ated with an out-oftown school, or it could also be a “bou­tique univer­sity” fo­cus­ing on a spe­cific lo­cal op­por­tu­nity.

Coates could not sure at this point what would be best, but he said it would cer­tainly be more than a build­ing.

“It’s more than a build­ing. It’s a whole mix of pro­grams and stu- dent ser­vices and sup­ports, and con­nec­tions to the lo­cal econ­omy,” he said.

He added that Cana­dian uni­ver­si­ties can­not only look at the needs of to­day or the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. In­stead he said we have to con­sider the com­mu­nity’s needs in 2036 and 2046.

Coates also spoke about small town univer­sity suc­cess sto­ries such as in Strat­ford Ont., the Univer­sity of North­ern Bri­tish Columbia in Prince Ge­orge and Quest Univer­sity Canada in B.C.

Coates also said that cap­i­tal­iz­ing on lo­cal re­sources is also im­por­tant be­cause there is never enough money to do what ev­ery­one wants to do in post sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

“It’s about the mo­bi­liza­tion of the com­mu­nity. When I tell you about the Strat­fords, the UNBCS and the Quest Pro­grams, these places suc­ceeded be­cause the com­mu­ni­ties threw their whole weight be­hind it,” said Coates.

“It wasn’t some­thing that was done ca­su­ally as a small thing. It was done over the re­sis­tance of gov­ern­ment, over the re­sis­tance of the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion that wasn’t sure it was pos­si­ble. You re­ally need full on mo­bi­liza­tion of the com­mu­nity to make some­thing like this fly. And the tim­ing has to be right. So those are ques­tions I will try to an­swer as I go for­ward.

Coates said he would be fin­ish­ing off his re­port by the end of the month and sub­mit­ting it to the pol­icy in­sti­tute for fur­ther study and a peer eval­u­a­tion process.

“I look for­ward to pro­duc­ing that re­port and hav­ing fur­ther con­ver­sa­tions with the good peo­ple of Tim­mins and North­ern On­tario as you con­sider you ed­u­ca­tional op­tions go­ing for­ward,” he said.

Mayor Steve Black thanked Coates for his pre­sen­ta­tion, and said each city coun­cil­lor will be af­forded the op­por­tu­nity to speak with Coates and pro­vide any in­put he seeks.

Len Gilis/ The Daily Press

Dr. Ken Coates, an aca­demic ex­pert from the Univer­sity of Saskatchewan, is cur­rently in the midst of a fea­si­bil­ity study for a new English lan­guage univer­sity for Tim­mins. Coates spoke about the study Mon­day night telling city coun­cil that cre­at­ing a new univer­sity in a smaller city is a ma­jor task.

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