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April 11, 2002 Premier announces $97-million grant to Concordia



Bernard Landry at Concordia

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Left to right:
Board of Governors chair Lillian Vineberg, Simard, Premier Bernard Landry and Rector Frederick Lowy, with emcee Evelyne Abitbol (Government and Media Relations) in the background.

Sylvain Simard, Herve Fischer

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Minister of Education Sylvain Simard (left) talks to Hervé Fischer, chair of Digital Image and Sound, whom he lauded in his remarks as the incarnation of technical-artistic synergy.

Photos by Christian Fleury

by Barbara Black

The Quebec government has given $97 million to Concordia for the construction of a downtown building to house the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science and the visual arts component of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

Premier Bernard Landry and Education Minister Sylvain Simard made the announcement Monday morning at a news conference in Concordia’s DeSève Cinema. The room was filled with Concordia administrators, faculty, staff, journalists and photographers. Both men spoke warmly and at some length, and were given a standing ovation.

The grant comprises $57 million from the Ministry of Education, $25 million that the university has already been promised for getting out of rented space, and $15 million from the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology for research infrastructure ($10 million of which is for engineering/computer science, and $5 million for the visual arts).

The integrated complex will fill the large lot on Ste. Catherine St. between Guy and Mackay Sts.. Rector Frederick Lowy said at the news conference that the shovels could hit the ground in a matter of weeks.

Premier Landry made a wide-ranging speech in which he said that the building represents “the two pillars of Quebec’s distinctive character,” namely, higher technology and excellence in the arts. He said the large grant is in line with the government’s belief in stimulating economic growth, and praised in glowing terms the recent performance of the Quebec economy and its vigorous support for education.

He went on to talk of Montreal’s multilingual character, and its role as a link between North America and Western Europe. He knew from a recent private visit with the Rector that Concordia “is not really an English-language university” — it serves anglophones, allophone and francophones alike, and has what is probably the most diverse student body in Canada.

The English-speaking community, he concluded, is “a precious jewel” (prompting a reporter to ask him to repeat the phrase in English for his tape recorder).

Education Minister Simard talked about the impressive increase in enrolment in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science — nearly 6,000 students currently enrolled.

The new integrated complex, for which Concordia is raising $68 million of the projected $165 million needed, will enable the university to accept 500 more students, and will reduce the number of buildings in which engineering and computer science classes are given from 13 to only two.

Simard acknowledged the fact that Concordia desperately needs better facilities and a more congenial physical atmosphere. He concluded by saying with a smile that he looks forward to visiting the newly completed “Quartier Concordia” in 2005.