Stratford Campus visit by uWaterloo president

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stratford Campus: Challenges and opportunities, says University of Waterloo president

Stratford Beacon-Herald Fri Sep 30 2011 Page: A3 Section: News 

By Laura Cudworth, Staff Reporter

The first year the University of Waterloo was in operation there were 78 students enrolled. Today there are more than 34,000.

As the first class of about 20 students attend the UW Stratford Campus this fall, the potential for the school is virtually boundless, suggested University of Waterloo president Feridun Hamdullahpur.

Hamdullahpur shared his vision of the school with members of the Rotary Club of Stratford Thursday.

To celebrate its 90th anniversary next year, the service club has started the Rotary Club of Stratford Award worth $2,500 for an undergraduate student enrolled in Year 3 or 4 of the global business digital arts program.

The award will give preference to students from Perth County, though it could go to an Ontario, Canadian or international student. The award will go to students who demonstrate leadership skills and volunteer in their communities. The university will administer the award which will be available next fall and carry on for a decade.

Hamdullahpur noted uWaterloo is considered one of the top 100 schools in the world and establishing a campus in Stratford is part of the school's visionary history.

"The world is facing a number of new challenges. At the same time, we're trying to convert those into opportunities," he said.

High schools will play a major role in preparing us to meet those challenges, he said.

There are new economies coming up, most notably in China and India but also including Brazil, Singapore, South Korea and Scandinavian countries. They have been fuelled by increased investment in science, research and development, he said.

"Those students won't have access to higher education in their own countries. They'll come here and we'll be faced with the challenge of how to accommodate them," he said.

The inevitable question is do those spots go to international students or should they be reserved for taxpayers? He said we need to accommodate both.

Canada needs to embrace digital technologies and make sure we take full advantage, he stressed. "We can't afford to sit back. We have to be constantly innovating."

The first class at the campus here had full enrolment in three months -- something he called "astounding."

The steel framework for the new downtown building on St. Patrick Street should start going up in the next two weeks. If construction is completed on time it should be open for students by next fall.

With innovative thinking, a combination of disciplines like art and technology, international scope and imagination there are no boundaries on what is possible, Hamdullahpur suggested.

In the wired world the next big idea could come from anywhere -- and Stratford is one such place -- he said.

lcudworth@bowesnet.com

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