About 100 people were on hand last Thursday afternoon for the ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open Confederation College’s new permanent home at the “multi-use” facility here.
Those on hand then got a chance to walk through the site, and enjoy some refreshments.
Campus manager Don Lovisa said he was pleased to see so many people turn out for the opening, and gave a special thanks to the college’s staff and students who had to endure all the hardships caused by construction over the past year.
“This is indeed a time to celebrate,” noted Paul Noonan, the Fort Frances representative on the college’s board of governors.
“Confederation College has played an important role of delivering post-secondary education in Fort Frances,” he added. “What you are witnessing here today is a reaffirment of that commitment.”
John Walker, chairman of the board of governors, credited the “multi-use” idea and partnership concept in making the college’s new home a reality.
“Without the team concept, it wouldn’t have worked,” he said. “And in the case of Fort Frances, it is truly a team.”
“We’re very proud to be a part of this concept,” noted Mayor Glenn Witherspoon. “Twenty years or more from now, this school will have graduated some great people.”
College president Roy Murray said the community support has been great even before the “multi-use” funding came through. He also predicted great things ahead now that the college is housed in its own building.
“You’re going to see some of the forefront of technology coming to post-secondary education here,” Murray said. “We couldn’t do this without a permanent home.”
NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton also stressed the importance in furthering the presence of the college here, noting it will help facilitate the training and re-training of workers across the district.
“This here is the most important investment a community can make and it’s an investment we can keep for 25 years,” he said.
< *c>Taking a peek
Walking into the college, one literally could smell its newness. Ahead from the main door to the right is the reception desk. Behind the counter lies the administration area, with several offices and a door at the back left corner which goes off to the staff lounge.
Basically, the college’s new building is one giant cube. The hallway runs in a square so it doesn’t take you very long to get back to where you started.
On both sides of the hallway, doors lead to classrooms of various sizes. Some rooms were built deliberately small—big enough to house only a few students doing distance education.
Other rooms, like the computer lab, come with sliding partitions so they can house small or very large classes.
Also moving into the new building with the college is Contact North, which runs the distance education programs for the college as well as for several universities.
Site co-ordinator Emily Watson was more than pleased with their new home.
“There was always a crunch for space [before],” she explained, noting the extra room in the building will allow for Contact North to offer more courses.
“For this move, we brought in more equipment,” Watson said. “They provide us with the space, we provide them with the equipment.”
The college’s new home was turning heads in all quarters. Sessional instructor Peter Bosma said it was nice to finally move out of the old Westfort building.
“The facilities are just super,” he said.
“The joint’s pretty nice,” echoed Terry Lynch, the student governor for the college who also is a student in architect design at the Thunder Bay campus. “From what I’ve seen, it’s fairly accessible, too.”
“We hope to see enrolment increase in the next year,” added governor Wendy Garner. “We’re expecting big things from this campus.”
Some small work remains to be done at the college, Lovisa said, such as the installation of lockers and blackboards. But the moving boxes have been unpacked for the last time and Confederation College has been quick to settle into its new facility.
“This is what we’ve been wishing and praying for,” Noonan stressed. “A permanent home for Confederation College.”