P.A. campus on track for 2020 opening

The University of Saskatchewan unveiled its new sign and the programs it plans to run in Prince Albert Monday

Dignitaries watch as University of Saskatchewan president Peter Stoicheff (back row, third from right) helps unveil the Prince Albert Campus sign Monday. During the event, the university announced what programs would be offered at the campus when it opens next year. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The University of Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert campus is on track to open next fall with some new programs and faculties interested in operating out of the new location.

Dignitaries gathered at the campus, called the Gateway Campus, to hold a sign unveiling Monday. The sign unveiling was the university’s answer to a ground-breaking ceremony for the campus as renovations continue inside.

“I’m extremely proud …. Today to offer this initial acknowledgement of what is going to happen here and to predict the actual opening a year from now,” university president peter Stoicheff said.

“We will be able to have in Prince Albert as a result of this, programming in nursing … agriculture and bioresources, arts and science, education, the Edwards School of Business and kinesiology.”

Students will also be able to take part of their studies in dentistry, law, medicine, nutrition, pharmacy, physical therapy and veterinary medicine at the Gateway campus. According to vice-provost of teaching, learning and student experience, the School of Engineering has also shown an interest in undergraduate offerings, while the College of Education has shown interest in graduate-level programming.

The campus is set for a September 2020 opening. Monday’s event also included some renderings of what the facility is expected to look like when it opens.

“This will allow us to expand our offerings in the way that prospective and current students deserve, far beyond Saskatoon and into the northern part of Saskatchewan,” Stoicheff said.

“What I think about most is the power and potential of this campus when so many colleges and schools will be gathered under one roof. We have never been in that situation outside of Saskatoon before. It is momentous to us.

 The university has been offering courses and parts of courses in Prince Albert for some time. The nursing and arts and sciences degrees, for example, have been taught at facilities across the city.

The new campus will be the first time all programs are offered in one, central location. The hope is that the new facility will also help enrolment in the city expand.

University of Saskatchewan student Alyshea Watson speaks about why she chose to take courses in Prince Albert during the new campus sign unveiling on Sept. 16, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

It will have space organized by function, including offices for faculty and administrators, biology and chemistry labs, an area for research, a student lounge, classrooms and a traditional space that could be used for Indigenous ceremonies such as smudging. About 55 per cent of the students attending University of Saskatchewan programming in Prince Albert are Indigenous.

“We have just under 500 students in P.A. at the moment, but the idea of this is we can really develop that number,” Stoicheff said.

“What I do know is that there is space here to grow … in a really, really good way. I could imagine that in a few short years from now we will have at least doubled the student cohort here.”

It isn’t just administrators who see the value in the vision for the campus.

Alyshea Watson is a fourth-year nursing student from Witchekan Lake First Nation who chose to take her courses in Prince Albert because it was less overwhelming than travelling to Saskatoon for school.

“I have been at the U of S for a tour and it was an intimidating place,” she said, adding that smaller class sizes and being closer to home were things that attracted her to the university’s programs in Prince Albert.

“This was our home city growing up. We used to always come to Prince Albert for what we needed. I know this city like the back of my hand, and how to access it. I think it’s awesome to have everything together. It gives us a smaller version of the Saskatoon campus.”

Premier Scott Moe, who is also the MLA for Rosthern-Shellbrook said he has heard similar feedback from friends of his family who studied nursing.

“They’re well aware of the investment coming in this new facility,” he said.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe speaks at the USask Prince Albert Campus on Sept. 16, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

“They understand and have vocalized to me what this means for future students who will be attending the nursing program here in Prince Albert, and the opportunity it provides them to take their programming while they still live at home.”

The same is true, he said, for northern students who won’t have to travel quite so far to get a university education.

“This celebration marks the beginning of a transformation of the downtown here in Prince Albert,” he said.

“It’s a crucial project not only for the city directly, but for the northern half of this province, and ultimately, for the entire province of Saskatchewan.”

–With files from Thia James, Saskatoon StarPhoenix