Grenfell poised for bright future, says V-P

Cory Hurley
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Mary Bluechardt, vice-president of Memorial University Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook was the guest speaker at the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade luncheon Wednesday. She has high hopes for the campus and its affect on the city. — Photo by The Western Star

Memorial University Grenfell Campus is poised to do its part in increasing the profile of Corner Brook and the surrounding area, making it a better place to live, says its vice-president.

“We have increased the number of students on our campus as well as the number of people working there,” Mary Bluechardt told members of the business community at the Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade Wednesday. “We have new buildings, a new residence under construction, a new environmental lab in the planning stages, and a new academic extension that houses the largest telescope in Atlantic Canada.

“And we have new research opportunities — the amount of research funding coming through Grenfell Campus, at the moment, is about $3 million.”

She said these positive steps are the result of sharing, collaborating and engaging.

Grenfell is growing to become a more integrated and significant part of Memorial, said the vice-president, but also advancing its own reputation and identity.

Since her arrival in July, she said much of her time has been spent building relationships, both on and off campus.

The full leadership team will soon be in place. Joining Bluechardt since last year has been Gary Bradshaw as associate vice-president (Grenfell) administration and finance; David Peddle, associate vice-president (Grenfell) academic; and Antony Card, associate vice-president (Grenfell) research.

As of the end of 2011, 21 new staff positions in areas such as student recruitment, web management, marketing and communications, conference services, health and safety, human resources, registrar’s office, student housing, and graduate studies. There are a number of hirings in the final stages.

Despite the demographics of western Newfoundland and Lab-rador, a decreasing high school graduate population, Grenfell has been increasing its enrolment — including by five per cent this semester and five per cent in the fall semester.

Bluechardt said it is important to continue to grow the student population and to keep the students in the region after graduation.

“To continue this trend, we have to tell our stories, get the word out — show prospective students the kind of place this is,” she said.

Last year, $300,000 was spent in marketing the Grenfell Campus, with a campaign targeting Nova Scotia and several international locations.

A complete rebrand and strategic marketing overhaul will now position Grenfell as a different, special place with Memorial University, she said. Manifest, a strategic branding firm, has been hired to help find this new “look and feel,” and an official launch is expected this fall.

Also this fall, the first master’s degree program at the west coast campus will begin.

There are close to 50 applicants for the seven or eight positions in the master of arts in environmental policy program, the vice-president said. She said she hopes its success will lead to other graduate programs.

Grenfell is also leading or partnering to advance its desire to create a centre dedicated to research in aging, exploring possibilities for internationalization, and expanding the model of Corner Brook as a “campus city.”

Bluechardt says she has been working with the Grenfell secretariat, the Pepsi Centre board and the City of Corner Brook, on a funding application for major upgrades to the Pepsi Centre’s conference and meeting facilities.

“It would be great if some of these renovations could be completed in time for the (Canadian University) Expo next year (June, 2013),” she said. “The proposed renovations would also increase multi-purpose use of the facility.”

Despite the community partnerships and efforts, the vice-president said students remain at the core of what they do.

Grenfell is also having a reunion in August for alumni, friends and Grenfell students. “Havin’ a Time” is touted as a celebration for anyone whose life has been touched by Memorial. Events are being planned.

The Western Star

Organizations: Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade, Newfoundland and Lab, Grenfell secretariat Pepsi Centre board Canadian University

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia Western Star

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