When the Supporting Student Success research project began in the summer of 2009, Laurier Brantford was not totally on our radar. During our initial site visit in the summer of 2010 and follow-up meeting in the spring of 2011, we met only with SAS staff from Waterloo. When the invitations to participate in the second phase of the Supporting Student Success study were sent, we were excited by the level of interest from Laurier Brantford and decided to add an additional research day to focus specifically on the Brantford campus.
Laurier Brantford, was opened in 1999 with 39 students and 2 faculty — all based in the historical Carnegie Building. Over the last ten plus years, the campus has grown to more than 2,600 students and into numerous buildings throughout the downtown core. One of the most unique elements of the Brantford Campus is the focus on a <a href=”core curriculum and interdisciplinary studies. Students talked about how this curricular focus enabled them to talk to nearly any student on campus as it is likely they had a similar class or professor at some point.
We also heard a lot at Laurier Brantford about partnerships and the necessity of building partnerships. These are evident in many of the buildings that Laurier Brantford has converted into academic, residence and administrative space in the downtown core. The partnerships are also with other institutions including Teacher Education (with Nipissing), articulation and transfer agreements with Mohawk College and on the day we visited an announcement of additional partnerships with Conestoga College.
Partnerships are also evident in the Stedman Community Bookstore which serves Laurier students and the Brantford community http://stedmanbookstore.com/ More recently the announcement of the joint YMCA-Laurier Brantford, and its post-secondary partners, the City of Brantford and Six Nations to work collaboratively to build a new athletic and recreation facility is another significant partnership.
A very interesting part of our visit was the chance to speak with some student leaders. We heard about the interaction between the Laurier Brantford Student Union and Student Services. But we also heard about the degree of involvement students had in many areas of campus life including with residence, leadership programs, campus governance, Aboriginal student services and other areas is remarkable and speaks to the trust that staff have in their students’ ability to be leaders.
We also heard a lot about Laurier’s movement towards Integrated and Engaged Learning — an intentional, considered and purposeful integration of community-based learning, community service learning, co-operative and experiential education with their unique academic programs of study.
Lastly, we heard of the challenges and opportunities that exist when working within a multi-campus organizational and governance structure. Laurier struck a Presidential Task force on multi-campus governance to examine governance models that were appropriate for the current locations but also consider future campus developments as well. We look forward to seeing how Laurier maintains a collective governance model, while recognizing and developing and encouraging the unique identity of each campus to represent the community in which they reside and the students, staff and faculty who choose to study and work there.