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Cape Breton University President Sees Opportunities With Grenfell

The ties that bind Cape Breton and Newfoundland and Labrador could create symbiotic opportunities for Cape Breton University and Grenfell Campus, Memorial University.

Some of the similarities between the Nova Scotia island and the western area of Newfoundland are obvious — the Marine Atlantic ferry and the Maritime Link Project. Others may not be so pronounced, but are no less important to fostering collaborative programming and research for the two post-secondary institutions.

Cape Breton is steeped in Mi’kmaq culture, something Cape Breton University has encompassed through its Mi’kmaq Resource Centre and Unama’ki College’s department of indigenous studies. Western Newfoundland also has a strong Mi’kmaq population. Although Grenfell does not have direct programming correlating to the aboriginal population, there has been various related research initiatives and symposiums at the campus.

Cape Breton University has its Shannon School of Business, where students can obtain undergraduate and post-graduate degrees. The school maintains a close tie with the local business community in delivering its programs. There is a similar approach in Corner Brook at Grenfell, where students can get a bachelor of business administration or minor in the program. Grenfell also houses the Navigate Program, which is designed to address needs of potential entrepreneurs in the pre start-up phase of business development.

The importance of research to a university is immeasurable, and both are striving to reach the limits of its capacity. The Sydney campus contains the Verschuren Centre, a multi-million dollar captalyst for world research. Plans include a research chair in environmental remediation and monitoring technologies, clean energy from coal and green energy. At Grenfell, the Environmental Policy Institute is dedicated to excellence in research, teaching and learning, and public engagement on environmental policy issues. Along with its research, programming is ever-expanding in the field of environmental science and studies.

“There is a lot that binds Cape Breton Island and Newfoundland and Labrador culturally, academically, and economically,” said Cape Breton University president David Wheeler.

While there has long been collaboration between Cape Breton University and Memorial, the idea of specific focus toward Grenfell is relatively uncharted. Wheeler, and a senior management team, will be meeting with Memorial’s senior delegation in the early summer. While they are in the province, they are also coming to Corner Brook to meet with Grenfell staff.

“I think there is a lot that is going on, a lot of shared history, and, I think, some exciting opportunities for the future,” Wheele said.

During the trip to Newfoundland, the president would also like to connect with community stakeholders such as representatives of the Qalipu Mi’kmaq – First Nation Band.

He is also interested in exploring overseas collaboration — not just in terms of student recuitment, but online educational offerings or even campuses.

Wheeler cautions the notion is very preliminary, but he sees Memorial University as an ideal partner as opposed to competitor in the field. While there are some students within each catchment area attending the others programs, he sees the relationship as mutually beneficial.

“Collaboration is always built on shared values,” he said. “… From the presidential level right through to faculty and staff, deans and vice-presidents, I think there are a lot of shared values there.”