Welcome to Mount Royal University
New provincial legislation will allow Mount Royal College to become Mount Royal University as early as this summer.
The Post-Secondary Learning Amendment Act will be introduced during the new session at the Alberta Legislature. It will “allow baccalaureate and applied studies institutions to have the option of applying for the use of the term ‘university’ in their name,” according to a government document.
This means there is a clear process in place for a name change, according to Mount Royal President Dave Marshall.
“It’s a big step,” he said. After the legislation is passed — likely in about six weeks — the college will ask Advanced Education and Technology Minister Doug Horner if it’s okay to change the name. If he agrees, he will take the request to cabinet.
Marshall couldn’t say for sure when the name will be changed. “It would be great if we could start the year off next year admitting students to Mount Royal University,” he said. “We’re confident it will all work out well.”
During the long process leading up to the name change, the ministry has faced opposition from other universities in Alberta, although this was never stated explicitly.
“The news of another Alberta university is exciting, but there will be many challenges for any new university and their students to face,” said Beverly Eastham, chair of the Council of Alberta University Students in a news release. “A new university has that much farther to go than the currently established universities to meet the goals of being accessible, affordable and of the highest quality.”
Any argument that existing university degrees will be devalued by Mount Royal’s name change is “ridiculous,” Marshall said.
“We are a university now. . . this is just a name change. Mount Royal has gone through all the processes over the past five years, with the support of the government, to ensure that the degrees we offer are at the U of C and U of A level.”
The Campus Alberta Quality Council has already determined Mount Royal’s degrees are up to a university standard. Funding for new baccalaureate degrees has flowed in, new faculty have been hired, and facilities are being built to meet the needs of a university, Marshall said.
“I already believe that I’ve been receiving an incredibly comprehensive education here at Mount Royal,” said Travis McIntosh, president of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal College and a fourth-year student in policy studies. The name change is just the “final brick in the wall” during a long process, he said.
Leaders from the college and the Students’ Association heard vague rumours about the legislation before the announcement, but nothing concrete.
“We heard a rumour about it, but we weren’t told what the legislation was or what it looks like,” Marshall said. “This was fairly new to us.”
McIntosh said Horner, the minister, did a “comprehensive consultation process with everybody but Mount Royal College,” prior to deciding on the legislation. He speculated this might have been to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest. “It’s a constant surprise party,” he said.
The Students’ Association will have to change its name (at least to remove “college”) and spend “tens of thousands” of dollars to change signage, letterheads, business cards and the like.
Other than that, the SA will “continue the work that we’re doing with a little bit more legitimacy,” McIntosh said.
“It’s been years of work to get to this point. Everybody helped in this process. It’s top down and also college-wide.”
The province has been a very good partner and has met all of Mount Royal’s requests up to this point, Marshall said.