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 Concordias 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 Quebecs distinctive character,
namely, higher technology and excellence in the arts. He said the large
grant is in line with the governments 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 Montreals 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
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.