New spaces coming to MRU in fall
by BAJ Visser
Students returning to Mount Royal University next year will see a number of changes to campus when they first arrive.
Renovations — some planned, and others in progress — will be coming to a close with the fall 2011 semester. The Liberty Lounge will be getting a facelift, while the Tim Hortons will be taking over the Mr. Sub on Main Street as it expands to become a full-service location. The parking lot next to the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning will be torn up to begin construction on MRU’s new conservatory, thanks to a $20-million donation, received last December.
However, perhaps most notable to MRU’s student body will be the two new expansions opening up in June — new three-storey additions to the science department’s B-wing and the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning, commonly known as the EC building.
More space, more courses
The three-storey addition to the EC building will provide a host of new classrooms to help relieve some of the stresses brought on by MRU’s new degree programs.
Of the 12 new classrooms being built in the expansion, 11 of them will be available for general credit use throughout the day, said Norma MacIntosh, dean of continuing education. The odd-classroom-out will be specially designed for MRU’s floral and art certificate programs.
These new classrooms will also house MRU’s continuing education programs, currently being run out of the Holy Cross Campus. Programs, such as the complimentary health program, will be housed on the Lincoln Park Campus instead. The lease on the Holy Cross Campus is ending this summer, so MacIntosh said moving these programs made sense.
The third floor of the new EC addition will house the offices for continuing education, putting the entire program under one roof, MacIntosh added. Currently, the continuing education offices are housed on the third floor of the Bissett School of Business, and with the advent of MRU’s new business degrees, they are finding themselves needing more space, much like the science department.
What is completely new to Mount Royal, however, will be located on the second floor of the new expansion. The entire floor will be given over to the complimentary health programs, which enroll about 700 students — both full and part time — in programs such as massage therapy and aromatherapy.
The new facilities will also serve as home to a new spa therapy program. A clinic is planned for massage and spa therapy students to conduct their practicum, and for members of the MRU community to take part in the services offered by these students for a nominal fee, which will go towards providing a scholarship for future massage therapy students.
“This gives students in the program a means to get hands-on experience — under instructor guidance — while also giving back to their community,” MacIntosh said.
“It’s always beneficial for students to have new space, especially when that space is well-thought-out and with students in mind,” MacIntosh said. “These expansions are just going to enhance our environment that much more.”
The highlight of the Science and Technology expansion will be the six new labs featuring “state-of-the-art equipment” said Bryan Lane, dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology.
“Students will really get a chance to use this equipment, particularly in their senior-level classes.” He added that in most other institutions, such equipment is typically restricted to graduate students.
Four new study areas are also planned as part of the expansion — one each for biology, chemistry, physics, and general sciences — along with space for lounges and general student study spaces, something Lane acknowledged the university is in desperate need of.
The new wing will be primarily focused at third- and fourth-year bachelor of science students, who will be seeing the most usage out of the new labs and specialized classrooms. However, Lane said all MRU students will see some benefit from the addition of classrooms, even if it’s just to alleviate some of the scheduling headaches caused by overbooked rooms.
Although, Lane said, students should not expect to see any increase in admittance rates for bachelor of science students with the new expansion. Infrastructure funding and funding for teaching staff are two very different things, and at the moment, the province has frozen any increase in post-secondary budgets as it grapples with a $3.4 billion deficit.
All these additions will be located on the first two floors of the new science wing and the third is being reserved entirely for offices. The entire department of chemical and biological sciences will be moving into their new digs over the summer, alongside a number of sociology and anthropology professors, as part of a massive movement of offices that will see almost every department in science and technology aside from computer sciences find a new home.
“We are really overcrowded here,” Lane said. “We have several part-timers in a single office, full-timers in part-timers offices, no meetings rooms, no spaces to meet with students.
“We’ve been growing, and we haven’t had the room to grow, so this will relieve some of the pain.”