A former Canadian Prime Minister returned to the Strait area recently, and after this visit, the region’s largest educational institution will be forever changed.
On October 26, StFX alumnus and former PM Brian Mulroney returned to the Antigonish campus to announce the formation of the Brian Mulroney Institute of Government and the construction of Mulroney Hall.
The institute will feature, among other programming, a new four-year undergraduate degree in Public Policy and Governance.
The new 75,000-square-foot Mulroney Hall will include 16 individual teaching/learning spaces made up of classrooms (ranging in size from 40 to 80 seats), computer labs, faculty offices and seminar rooms, an auditorium with room for at least 300 people, an interactive gallery highlighting Mulroney’s time as Prime Minister, and a replica of his working office.
The first class of the Public Policy and Governance program will begin in 2017. Construction of Mulroney Hall is set for completion in late 2018.
Donations from around the world came in to cover the cost of the overall $60 million project, with Mulroney helping to bring in funds. The components will include a $40 million facility in the Mulroney Hall, with the remaining $20 million raised going towards an endowment for academic chairs and student scholarships, as well as bursaries, including funds set aside for underrepresented students.
The provincial government also offered $5 million in funding.
Mulroney said the donations to the project ranged from $5 million to $5,000. He said there are plans to publish all the names of the donors in a special issue of the StFX Alumni News.
Former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, who introduced Mulroney during the announcement, said fundraising began about four years ago.
Although some chalk this up to nothing more than a vanity project for a former PM trying to rehabilitate a tattered public image, the fact is, this new building is badly needed on the StFX campus, to replace the aging and aesthetically challenged Nicholson Hall.
Then there’s the positive impact on programs offered at the Strait area’s only university, by diversifying those available to students, enhancing existing courses and providing students and professor with more resources.
Naturally, the devil is in the details about how all this money will come together to fund an endeavour of this magnitude but there’s no doubt that once it’s constructed, it will change the face of StFX forever.