Ottawa Citizen

New build­ing a big sym­bol for Car­leton,

River Build­ing seen as most im­por­tant 2012 achieve­ment

- MATTHEW PEAR­SON mpear­son@ot­tawac­i­t­i­zen.com Twit­ter.com/mpear­son78

Like the hun­dreds of win­dows that make up its shiny fa­cade, Car­leton Univer­sity’s new River Build­ing is the re­sult of many smaller vic­to­ries, says univer­sity pres­i­dent Roseann Runte.

Opened this fall, the $55-mil­lion build­ing is sym­bolic of how com­mit­ted the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments, as well as in­di­vid­ual donors, are to fund­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion, she says.

The re­liance on sus­tain­able con­struc­tion prac­tices — the build­ing has a bio-wall and green roof — and its lo­ca­tion near the Rideau River sig­nify Car­leton’s con­nec­tion to the com­mu­nity and its con­cern for the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

But Runte says its great­est sym­bol is in­side the build­ing, in the form of a gi­ant sculp­ture carved from the wood of an oak tree that stood in Old Ot­tawa South for more than 200 years.

The im­pres­sive sculp­ture, called Sail­ing Through Time, shows a tree up­side down, its branches point­ing to­ward the ground and its roots in the sky.

“To me, that is a sym­bol of what hap­pens at univer­sity — that peo­ple learn new ways of think­ing, new ways of open­ing their eyes to the world,” Runte said in se­lect­ing the River Build­ing’s open­ing as the sin­gle most im­por­tant achieve­ment at Car­leton in 2012.

With bac­calau­re­ates largely seen now as only the first step to­ward en­ter­ing the work­force, Runte says, Car­leton must make get­ting such a de­gree as en­rich­ing as pos­si­ble.

A few years ago, the school started giv­ing stu­dents a cocur­ric­u­lar record upon grad­u­a­tion, which is es­sen­tially a tran­script of all the vol­un­teer work, in­tern­ships and in­ter­na­tional work they did out­side of class dur­ing their time at Car­leton.

Co-op place­ments are also a big deal, Runte says, adding they’re not just for sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents any more. All arts de­part­ments at Car­leton of­fer co-ops now.

In terms of re­form­ing the post-sec­ondary sec­tor as a whole, Runte said sta­ble government fund­ing and a greater adop­tion of tech­nol­ogy on cam­puses provincewi­de are key.

It might soon be­come com­mon­place to have some cour­ses taught on cam­pus and oth­ers of­fered strictly on­line, for ex­am­ple. “I think that will be­come the norm,” she said. “There will be a greater mix­ture of how that is done, and that will bring greater col­lab­o­ra­tion among in­sti­tu­tions.”

Col­lab­o­ra­tion is some­thing else she’d also like to see more of.

Runte used the ex­am­ple of a unique joint pro­gram it of­fers in con­junc­tion with Al­go­nquin Col­lege called the bach­e­lor of in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. Stu­dents at­tend both schools con­cur­rently, get­ting both the the­ory and the prac­ti­cal, and grad­u­ate in four years with both a de­gree and a di­ploma.

That means en­ter­ing the work­force two years ear­lier and sav­ing thou­sands of dol­lars on tuition.

Runte said the two schools are cur­rently look­ing at other pro­grams to do this with, and added that other On­tario cam­puses ap­pear in­ter­ested in do­ing the same.

Although calm has been re­stored now, this year’s Que­bec stu­dent protests and on­go­ing con­cerns about ris­ing tuition have put the is­sue of ac­cess and af­ford­abil­ity front and cen­tre.

Runte says the cur­rent model re­quires a bal­ance to be struck be­tween what pro­por­tion government and in­di­vid­u­als each con­trib­ute, though there is not cur­rently a for­mula to set th­ese amounts.

But, she said, Cana­di­ans could also choose to make free tuition a na­tional pri­or­ity and work to­ward that goal by, for ex­am­ple, col­lect­ing $10 from ev­ery­one who pays in­come tax and putting the money into an en­dow­ment for higher ed­u­ca­tion for 25 years.

“When I look at what hap­pened in Que­bec, peo­ple were out on the street bang­ing those pots be­cause they’re so frus­trated. They want a change,” she said. “So I think you ei­ther ac­cept the sys­tem as it is and say, ‘Ev­ery­body pays part and that’s the way it is,’ or if you really want change, then let’s have a real na­tional project ... and then we can be really proud and say, ‘This is what we’ve done for the fu­ture.’ ”

In the mean­time, 2013 is ex­pected to be a busy year at Car­leton.

Ren­o­va­tions at the li­brary will be com­plete, as will a new strate­gic plan.

A num­ber of new pro­grams will also be launched, in­clud­ing a master of phi­lan­thropy and non-profit lead­er­ship and PhD pro­grams in so­cial work and ap­plied lin­guis­tics.

 ??  ?? Car­leton pres­i­dent Roseann O’Reilly Runte says 2013 will see the fin­ish of li­brary renos and a new strate­gic plan.
Car­leton pres­i­dent Roseann O’Reilly Runte says 2013 will see the fin­ish of li­brary renos and a new strate­gic plan.

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