UNB president Eddy Campbell delivered an address on the state of the university to a crowd of school senators, students and union representatives last Monday.
Campbell announced a five million dollar commitment to UNB’s marketing campaign “Why UNB?” as way of attracting more undergraduates to the university.
The $5 million is a part of a total $30 million to be spent over the next eight years. The objective of the campaign is to build the university’s undergraduate base in order to increase the number of later graduate students. Only $5 million has been committed to the campaign so far.
The school’s long term goal is to use the greater number of graduate students to help mold UNB as a more research heavy institution.
“We should be much more of a research powerhouse in Atlantic Canada,” Campbell said. “The value that I put on having a more research intensive community is twofold. First of all, I think it does makes us a stronger university, and secondly, I think it allows us to have a much greater impact on our province and our region.”
After each year the enrollment figures will be assessed by the university to determine the effectiveness of the campaign. If enrollment improves, then the school will begin to commit the remaining $25 million planned for the project. If no improvement is seen, then the school will reconsider the value of the campaign and then choose whether or not to proceed with it.
Faculty from the science, technology, engineering and math departments have expressed their concern that they don’t have the resources to accommodate the extra students that the marketing plan aims for. Campbell said that the money earned with the extra tuition from the greater number of students will go back towards hiring new faculty to provide for the extra students.
The school may have difficulty affording more faculty though because it expects cuts ranging from 5 to 10 per cent of the current subsidies from the provincial government. Campbell said in his address that his third-party sources tell him the cuts could be as bad as 15 per cent.
However, Campbell hinted at an economic impact study the school had done by outside sources. He said the final results will be published in the upcoming weeks but he already had access to some information.
“[The study] suggests that the economic impact of this university on an annual basis is $1.2 billion, which is about 4.5 per cent of our gross domestic product here in New Brunswick. It’s a very, very large footprint in terms of what we contribute to the economy of this province,” Campbell said.
The study also gave credit to the university for supporting more than 30,000 jobs either directly under UNB’s employment or through the economy it supports. Campbell plans to use the outcome of the study to present its case to the province.
“This is very useful information to have when speaking to a government whose number one priority is jobs. I am eager to be able to present these figures to the government as they scrutinize every dollar that they spend,” Campbell said in his address.