At the coffee shop, I was recently asked ‘what’s happening at Brandon University?’
Fortunately, my friends had just sat down with a large cup-full because, as the university’s new president and vice-chancellor, I was thrilled with the opportunity to share.
The coffee shop conversation is the basis for this article, my first monthly submission to the Brandon Sun. I thank the Sun for this privilege. It is an honour to engage with members of our community and to tell the story of the outstanding work conducted by those who have contributed to the university over the years.
This is also a story of our faculty, staff, alumni, donors and partners who continue to work hard at building an institution that we can all celebrate and be proud of.
Each year, Brandon University supports the successful graduation of nearly 600 students and educates more than 4,000 students. The university directly employs more than 400 full-time faculty and staff who reside and volunteer in Brandon and the surrounding area.
Today, our students can be found in every profession and walk of life across the province and country. Our faculty and staff are members of research networks, making contributions on the local and national stage and conducting activities that directly benefit society. Over the past year, professors have contributed to new scientific discoveries, writing of books, musical performances, health care and education. We can all share in their accomplishments.
We make special and important contributions to the province and beyond. For instance, the Program for the Education of Native Teachers (PENT) and community-based education programs support teacher education and schools for aboriginal, rural and northern communities throughout the province.
The university has been a longstanding member of World University Service of Canada, facilitating educational opportunities at a global level. We are also home to a growing population of international students and exchange programs that allow our students to gain a global perspective while attending a university right here in the heart of their community.
Yes, we periodically hear stories about the challenges facing universities. These challenges often reflect changes and economic pressures taking place in society and affecting us all. On the other hand, the next time you receive health-care services, celebrate the outstanding efforts of a teacher, learn of a new cure for a disease, benefit from a technological innovation or see an excellent performance — remember that a university likely helped to contribute to these outcomes and possibilities.
There are exciting opportunities for Brandon University to be a partner and catalyst for growth and development. In 2017, Brandon University will celebrate its 50th anniversary. In 1967, Brandon University emerged from Brandon College with a heritage that dates back to 1899 and a history that celebrates the progress of the city and province. Brandon University has a bright future!
In the coming months, I will contribute articles on numerous topics with a focus on public interest stories, to explore how we can jointly support the growth and development of our communities. It is important to emphasize that there is a role for us all in shaping the future of Brandon University and region.
Next time you see me on the bike path, grabbing groceries, enjoying conversation, or getting coffee at one of the city’s many fine establishments, please say ‘hi’ and tell me about you and your aspirations for BU. Together, we will write an outstanding story of success and stride toward excellence!
» Gervan Fearon is the president and vice-chancellor of Brandon University. He holds a Ph.D. in economics, a BSc. and M.Sc. in agricultural economics and a certified general accountant designation. His column appears monthly.