It’s been one year since University College of the North (UCN) opened their new doors in Thompson, and it has been a whirlwind says UCN president Konrad Jonasson. “We finally had the opportunity to have the majority of students under one roof, in a building designed to be a post-secondary facility, whereas the past 22-plus years we’ve been operating out of three Polaris building, that were not designed for it.”
Within the new campus, which is attached to the Thompson Regional Community Centre, the latest technology for distance learning can be found in all classrooms, as well as modern teaching tools for instructors to assist with teaching. Jonasson says another bonus is the close proximity to R.D Parker Colligate where dual credit courses are also now being offered to high school students.
With every new venture there are always a few bumps in the road, and Jonasson says UCN was no different. “There were a couple of incidents where the elevators weren’t working, most cases it was one of the two, so we still had access for people with physical challenges. We did have the one issue where we had a problem with the water and sewage system, where we had to close down for one day.”
Other issues brought forward during their six-month review were air quality, so Jonasson says the facility is now equipped with air humidifiers, as well as defects in concrete, which are being worked on.
One student, who asked that her name not be used, is studying for her bachelor of arts and is hoping to go into education. Shesays she decided to study at UCN because this is where her family lives. For her, one of the best things about UCN are the teachers. “I like the new campus, but what makes me like studying at UCN is the professors. I have very good professors over the years that have been supportive and understanding. This has not changed from the old campus to the new.”
Jonasson says students have taken advantage of the child care services available at the campus as well as student housing. The student interviewd by the Thompson Citizen says her favourite thing is the new library.
Jonasson explained that the first year is the hardest, but UCN is here to stay. “I see the future as being unlimited. I see us really growing our student base in Thompson. We are currently in discussions involving the Mystery Lake school division as well as the government of Manitoba to build a trades training facility in the vicinity of UCN and R.D. Parker.” The potential training facility would expand what is offered at the Thompson campus the president mentioned.
Student enrollment has also gone up this past year by over 100 students. Currently enrolled in the Thompson campus are over 600 students, 40 per cent of them from outside of the city.