by Eugenia Xenos
The Concordia community expressed general support for a space-planning proposal for the
University at open meetings last Thursday. However, there were plenty of questions and comments from the roughly 600 people who attended.
The proposal, also known as Option A, recommends that the sciences and the Science College move to Loyola, where a new building will be constructed to accommodate them. They will join Communication Studies/Journalism, the Performing Arts, and Lonergan College, which are already happily housed on the west-end campus.
Option A is similar to the recommendation made by most members of the Rector's Task Force on the Revitalization of Loyola last winter. It will be presented for approval at the October 21 Board of Governors meeting. It is part of a long-term plan that could span up to 15 years.
Rector Frederick Lowy opened the meetings by providing some context about how the Loyola Campus had begun to deteriorate, and Executive Director of the Rector's Cabinet Garry Milton made a presentation that showed the enormous amount of work done on space planning.
Many proposals were examined and costed, including one that called for moving to a one-campus operation downtown. However, closing down the Loyola Campus appeared to be the most costly option of all, and thus was jettisoned early on.
Milton said the criteria used to evaluate these plans included whether the option was consistent with academic plans that have already been developed, the cost, the extent of inter-campus travel needed, the potential impact on enrolment, whether the plan makes use of existing facilities, and its flexibility. It also sought to establish a "resident" student population, with the majority of their classes on one campus.
All of the options would entail the renovation of the Drummond Science Building, and the use of Hingston Hall as a residence once again. The annexes and the Faubourg Tower would probably be sold over time. The University is planning to build on the old York Theatre site.
In the end, Option A was chosen as the most feasible because it was the most consistent with the academic plans, and in the long run, the least expensive. The first phase could cost up to $89 million, $80 million of which could be raised from the provincial government, the conversion of rental space, and the Capital Campaign.
It would mean that one-fifth of the student population would have Loyola as their home campus. Currently, about 25 per cent of classes are given at Loyola, but less than 10 per cent of the students are "resident" there.
At the morning meeting, retired Physics Professor John MacKinnon said that it would be a "monstrous mistake" to move Physics away from Engineering. "We should take advantage of the synergy between the two departments," he said.
However, other faculty, including other Physics professors, said there is no such synergy now, and that in fact, there is a difference in teaching philosophy and methods.
Other questions concerned how the "greening of Mackay" would be affected by the plan, and what would happen to Continuing Education that is now housed in the Faubourg. (It would continue to rent the space it now occupies.)
At the afternoon meeting at Loyola, a number of professors long associated with that campus spoke in support of "Option A Plus." They supported Option A, they said, but urged the University to consider establishing a new college of the humanities to preserve Loyola's liberal education tradition, and to encourage variety among the students.
In reply, several professors said that science does provide diversity, and the consolidation of the sciences at Loyola would give that campus a new and vital identity.
Dean of Arts and Science Martin Singer said the proposal for another college should have been brought to the planning process at the Faculty level, but Rector Lowy said he would mention the professors' concerns to the Board.