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Statement from Dr. Mary Bluechardt, vice-president (Grenfell Campus)

Jan. 26, 2016

The accomplishments and successes of Grenfell Campus, Memorial University, since receiving a new governance structure and Grenfell budget envelope in 2009, have put the campus in an exceedingly solid position.

I thank the provincial government for their continued support as we continue to move on the initiatives and plans outlined in our five-year strategic plan, Vision 20/20. Already we have made great progress in implementing the objectives we set for ourselves in 2015.

We are continually building our academic programming in areas that are relevant to current market needs, such as the new business administration 3+1 articulation agreement between Grenfell Campus and College of the North Atlantic, and new master’s programs: a master of arts in environmental policy and a master of science in boreal ecosystems and agricultural sciences. Planning is underway for future programs at the undergraduate and graduate level.

The infrastructure we have developed over the last number of years makes Grenfell an attractive place to be for students, faculty, staff and visitors. Beautiful, bright study spaces, new residence accommodations, cutting edge research laboratory facilities (such as the brand new Boreal Ecosystem Research Initiative), and stately gathering spaces for public functions all combine to make Grenfell a true focal point for the City of Corner Brook and surrounding western region.

We’ve built on our capacity for community outreach through our GO Engagement Office and Navigate Entrepreneurship Centre, which are developing new and innovative ways to connect with community partners and businesses.

Our research agenda is becoming stronger each year. Our faculty and staff are engaged in research and scholarly activity that is diverse. The addition of faculty and staff, as well as new facilities, means that Grenfell is better able to meet the information needs of our communities, industry, government and non-governmental organizations and is currently developing new agreements and collaborations. Just before Christmas we released the first-ever research report, titled For the Record, which summarizes the excellent work being done by Grenfell Campus faculty and staff in the research arena.

On the international front, as of fall 2015 Grenfell has a total of 116 international students from 31 countries – the most we have ever had at this campus. We’re also working with universities in other countries for exchange and research opportunities, such as memoranda of understanding and exchange agreements with the West Indies, Iceland, Netherlands, Colombia, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Efficiency and accountability is another major theme in our strategic plan. We continually review and measure to ensure we are running a tight and efficient operation. In addition, as a vice-president of Memorial University, I am a member of the Operating and Budget Committee for the university, which is continually reviewing all campuses of Memorial for efficiencies and opportunities.

Grenfell’s evolution over the last 40 years has culminated in a full-fledged, equal campus in the Memorial University multi-campus system. As the vice-president (Grenfell Campus), I am a full and equal member of Memorial’s Vice-Presidents’ Council. Major initiatives requiring university approval, whether it be Senate or the Board of Regents, have been met with great support and enthusiasm. Our strategic plan, new programming, the development of student support programs, have all received the support of my counterparts and our governing bodies. Most recently, our proposal to move our academic structure from a system of heads and divisions to one of deans and schools, an initiative that was spearheaded by our former associate vice-president academic, was passed by both the Senate and the board. We are so pleased to be able to move into an academic structure that is in sync with universities across the country. And while the multi-campus system allows us direct access to these governing bodies, it also gives us the flexibility to make operational decisions that are best for Grenfell, right here at home. This duality strengthens the multi-campus system, giving us flexibility and freedom in our decision-making.

Unfortunately we have had to say goodbye to three capable and accomplished people in associate vice-president roles; each of those individuals stepped down for three very different reasons, and should not be linked as has been implied in recent media reports. While we are always sad to say goodbye, I have already taken action to ensure measures are in place to continue the work of each portfolio. In the interim we have proficient and knowledgeable individuals in the portfolios of research and administration and finance, and I have great confidence in the leadership of our Heads Council and Senior Leadership Advisory Group, which represents all directors and managers on campus. We have begun the search for a new associate vice-president (administration and finance); Grant Thornton’s Corner Brook office is already receiving applications and we hope to have someone in place in the near future.

I would like to take this opportunity to say a sincere thank you to Gary Bradshaw, former associate vice-president (Grenfell Campus) administration and finance, who has transferred to a similar position at the Marine Institute and who made this move to be closer to his family in St. John’s; to Dr. Antony Card, former associate vice-president (Grenfell Campus) research, who is returning to his teaching and research portfolio with the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at the St. John’s campus, and who has secured national grants for his research in rural youth health issues; and to Dr. David Peddle, former associate vice-president (Grenfell Campus) academic, who will return to Grenfell in his position as a professor of philosophy, following his administrative leave. 

I would also like to thank Dr. Ivan Emke, interim associate vice-president (Grenfell Campus) research, and Fred Christian-Quinton, interim associate vice-president (Grenfell Campus) administration and finance, for their leadership and teamwork. When called upon they both hit the ground running and I believe the transitions have been fairly seamless.

Finally, I would like to thank the entire Grenfell community – faculty, staff, students, retirees and alumni – without whom we would not be able to fulfill our special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in particular, the western region. I look forward to my second term and to continuing to lead Grenfell with determination and commitment.

Dr. Mary Bluechardt
Vice-president (Grenfell Campus) Memorial University