U of S announces Prince Albert campus

The site of a future U of S campus. The unemployment gap for Ind. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The University of Saskatchewan is bringing a campus to Prince Albert.

The university already offers programming, but it takes place across the city. The new campus will allow the institution to bring that programming together under one roof. During the 2017-2018 academic year, 324 students in the colleges of arts, science, nursing and medicine took classes in Prince Albert. Of those, 47 per cent were Indigenous.

The property being purchased by the university is located at 1061 Central Avenue. Parts of the building will be renovated to meet the needs of the university, and the campus is expected to be operational by fall 2020. The university will share the building with some of its existing tenants.

The two-story, 110,000-square foot building, currently known as the forest centre, was built in 2003, sits on 2.39 acres and is LEED (leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certified. It is currently owned and managed by the Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation (SOCO).

“The new campus in Prince Albert will enhance our ability to provide high-quality post-secondary education to Indigenous and northern communities and will serve as an anchor for the university’s emerging northern strategy,” said university president Peter Stoicheff in a press release. “Our students, faculty and staff will benefit from an investment that promotes quality educational programs and student support services.”

Over the next year, the university will develop a renovation plan. Renovated space will include classrooms, offices, lab facilities and common gathering areas.

According to Stoicheff, the U of S has a long history of being present in the north, running programming and conducting research. He said the building purchase and the development of a northern strategy emphasizes the institution’s commitment to Indigenous and northern education.

The press release said the population of northern Saskatchewan is growing, and based on enrolment numbers and conversations with northern communities, there is interest in more local post-secondary options.

“It’s time to create an integrated and comprehensive strategy that builds on the strengths of the work happening now, and also to create mechanisms that make it easier for northern communities to access our university,” said Stoicheff. “Together, we will collaborate on developing needed programs and areas of research that are of interest to Indigenous and northern peoples.”

Mayor Greg Dionne was excited by the news.

“For many years we have considered Prince Albert the medical, educational and service centre for Northern Saskatchewan, and a University of Saskatchewan campus in Prince Albert fits our vision and how we serve the north.”

More to come.