USask breaks ground on Prince Albert campus
- NC Raine | September 17, 2019
The University of Saskatchewan (USask) has taken another big step towards opening their new northern campus in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Dignitaries, university faculty, and community members participated in a ceremonial “ground-breaking” on Monday, featuring the unveiling the new Prince Albert Campus sign. The new campus, opening in the fall of 2020, will provide a significant boost for individuals from northern communities to obtain a post-secondary degree.
“It is this province’s intent that no matter where you live in this province, you have access to high quality post-secondary education,” said Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe during Monday’s ceremony.
“This new campus will further enable not just students from this city or region, but enable students from the north to study closer to their homes and closer to their families,” he said.
The USask announced their Prince Albert campus in 2018 after purchasing a two-story, 110,000 square foot building in the downtown core, formerly housing the Forestry Centre. The building, which sits on 2.39 square feet of land, was purchased from the Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation (SOCO) for $8.125 million - $4.5 million less than the province paid for its original construction.
“I think this celebration really marks a beginning of a transformation for a downtown here in Prince Albert,” said Moe.
A campus in Prince Albert has been a long-time goal, according to USask President Peter Stoicheff, who spoke on the importance of providing to those in northern communities.
“We had some spaces here and were able to deliver some programs here, but we wanted to have a much large footprint, a greater presence here, with more students, and to be able to really be a part of this community,” said Stoicheff.
The USask has offered a nursing program in Prince Albert of the last fifteen years. In addition to nursing, the Prince Albert campus will offer Agriculture and Bio-resources, Arts and Science, Education, Business, Kinesiology, Dentistry, Law, Medicine, Nutrition, Pharmacy, Physical Therapy, and Veterinary Medicine.
Campus space will also feature a unique physical design, in which the space will be organized by function (study areas, classrooms, offices etc.), rather than the space segregated by college or program – a first for the U of S.
“What I think about most is the power and potential of this campus when so many colleges and schools will be gathered under one roof. We have never been in that situation outside of Saskatoon before, so it is momentous for us,” he said.
In the 2018-19 academic year, the U of S had more than 3,300 self-declared Indigenous students, up nearly 7% from the previous year. Indigenous students represent more than 13 percent of the overall student population at the U of S, while 55 percent of students at the Prince Albert campus are Indigenous.
“It’s important to us that the U of S environment grows to matching the province’s demographics (...) and that our programming needs meet the needs of the community and population,” said Stoicheff.
The new Prince Albert campus will follow an MOU signed between the USask and Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) earlier this spring. The agreement assures the PAGC’s input into programs and courses offered by the university at the Prince Albert campus.
“The city of Prince Albert is a gateway to the north. When that MOU was signed, it was a good thing for the north, because a lot of people in the north come from a small setting and are intimidated by big cities,” said PAGC Vice-Chief Christopher Jobb.
“Coming to this city is like coming home. There are so many people from the north who live in this city, so this (campus) is a good thing,” he said.
Metis students may also receive a significant boost of support, as the Metis Nation-Saskatchewan (MN-S) received a $89 million education fund specifically for post-secondary Metis students.
“That relieves so much stress from families, and relieves barriers so students can go to school and don’t have to work extra jobs or get a student loan. They can flourish in their education,” said Sherry McLennan, MN-S regional director said on Monday.
McLennan also announced that the MN-S has been able to support 380 Metis students with academic funding, so far.
Over the next year, the campus will continue to undergo renovations to accommodate a new, increased student body. Budget renovations to the building is $4.7 million, plus over $680,000 for new furniture. The renovations are expected to be complete by the end of May 2020.