The new University Commons, unveiled today during an announcement at the UNB Saint John campus, is set to break ground. Construction will begin in April with significant infrastructure funding now in place from three levels of government, as well as donations from the private sector and many individuals. The signature building will transform the entrance to the campus, complementing tens of millions of dollars of construction now underway at Tucker Park.
“The Commons will be the first stand-alone building of its kind in the province,” said Robert MacKinnon, vice-president UNB Saint John. “This has been a dream of ours for some time because we know it will be a place that will make our city and our region proud and one more reason for students and visitors to come to Saint John.”
As UNB’s first “green” building designed to conserve energy and resources such as grey water, it will be certified with a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) rating of silver. A library of the future, it will contain a number of support services including the Student Technology Centre, the Writing Centre, the Math and Stats Tutoring Centre, and the Commons Café. Visitors will find treasures including the university’s science fiction and fantasy collection, artworks from around the world and areas that can be transformed in minutes from seating spaces to guest lecture halls and back again.
The announcement coincided with the launch of a $25-million fundraising campaign that will complete the long anticipated project. As of the launch date, the campaign has already raised just over $20 million, including pledges from all three levels of government: $18 million under the Knowledge Infrastructure Program representing $10 million from the Province of New Brunswick and $8 million from the Government of Canada, as well as $2 million from the City of Saint John. Major funding has also been received from the Towns of Quispamsis and Hampton, the Village of St. Martins, alumni, faculty, staff, corporations and friends.
The Knowledge Infrastructure Program is a two-year, $2 billion economic investment to upgrade research and training facilities at Canada’s colleges, universities and Cégeps. It is part of the $12 billion in new infrastructure investments allocated under Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
The program is providing real economic stimulus and employment by creating local jobs for engineers, architects, trades people and technicians. It is also helping to generate the advanced technological infrastructure needed to keep Canada’s research and educational facilities at the forefront of scientific advancement.
“A strong commitment to post-secondary education in our region has brought us to 80 per cent of our fundraising goal, in large part due to government support,” commented Eddy Campbell, UNB president and vice-chancellor. “History has shown us that Saint Johners have always supported the development of their university and I am confident that this generosity and support will continue.”
The University Commons campaign has raised just over $20,400,000 to date, including generous gifts from two major donors – PotashCorp and Keith and Elizabeth Chapman.
“The people of New Brunswick have been very supportive of UNB’s mandate and, most recently, of its growing health agenda that is welcoming partners like Dalhousie University Medicine New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Community College’s health programs to campus,”said campaign co-chair, Mary Ann Ketchum, who is leading the campaign with her husband and business partner, Don Ketchum. “This remarkable building will support all of the students and professionals who will be sharing our campus in the very near future and will be available to the broader community, ultimately contributing to Greater Saint John’s aspirations for growth.”
Established in 1785, UNB is one of the oldest public universities in North America. With more than 12,500 students from more than 100 countries, UNB has the best student-to-faculty ratio of Canada’s comprehensive universities, according to Maclean’s magazine. As the largest research institution in New Brunswick, UNB conducts over 75 per cent of the province’s university research. The university has more than 3,500 faculty and staff, and an annual operating budget of more than $160 million. UNB’s two main campuses are located in Fredericton and Saint John, N.B.
Tanaka, Communications & Public Affairs Manager (506) 648-5697