by Anna Bratulic
Elizabeth McIninch, BA 67, remembers her university days fondly. She was one the first few women studying at Loyola College and she helped set up Loyola's first women's basketball team. All her classes were in the historic Central Building and the hallways were packed with students.
She is now a member of the Loyola Alumni Association and sometimes visits the campus. "The vibrancy and the energy aren't there," McIninch said. "It has sort of become a side theatre without a whole lot of sound there."
In an effort to reverse the withering vitality of Loyola campus, retired Sociology Professor John Drysdale wants to establish a humanities and social sciences college there that would attract all students, particularly those from out of the province.
The idea sprang from a task force report on revitalizing Loyola presented to the Board of Governors last April. The report, which was subsequently approved, suggested all the science departments (except Mathematics and Statistics) be moved and housed in a new building on the Loyola campus.
Drysdale and others felt the report did not go far enough to improve the atmosphere of Loyola. They particularly worried that the humanities and social sciences -- the heart of Loyola tradition -- would all be shifted downtown.
At a meeting last November, the Board of Governors requested that the Faculty investigate the possibility of a new college. The seven-member committee is chaired by Dean of Arts and Science Martin Singer and is expected to submit a report detailing the proposal to the Council of the Faculty of Arts and Science.
"I feel confident today in saying that there will be a proposal for a college by the end of the semester," said Drysdale, in a talk he gave at Lonergan University College two weeks ago. The next steps will be to seek approval of Faculty Council in April, Senate in May and, finally, the Board of Governors in June.
Details for the college are still nebulous, with more information expected to emerge in the spring report. Drysdale stressed it will be distinct from Concordia's five other schools and colleges in several ways, perhaps including size. Drysdale hopes to attract around 1,000 students, but the size of the new college is still under discussion.
He noted that Concordia's reputation also needs a boost, and that establishing a new college might achieve that. He used Carleton University's "College of the Humanities" to demonstrate his point. A sense of crisis at Carleton, which consistently found itself at the bottom of Maclean's annual university rankings, prompted the birth of the new school. It was founded by noted author and professor Peter Emberley in 1996.
The courses to be offered at the new college have not yet been determined. While the emphasis would be on social science and humanities, Drysdale said that science and commerce should not be excluded. The cost has not been fully worked out, either. Drysdale hopes the out-of-province students' increased tuition will help in that regard.
Political Science Professor Jim Moore thinks the serenity and sense of history of Loyola are conducive to higher learning. "This should be the centre of the University," said Moore. "It looks like a university."
When Loyola merged with Sir George Williams University 25 years ago, there were about 6,000 students at the west-end campus. Today, there are slightly more than 1,000, but the task force recommendation of shifting the sciences to Loyola would increase the population to about 3,000 students, and the expectation is that they would make Loyola their academic "home."
Now, many with classes at Loyola seem to hop on the shuttle bus and head back downtown at the earliest opportunity. Also, the lack of food and other facilities has made the campus less and less appealing over the years.