Friday, July 13, 2012

Canadian Mennonite University Expansion

The Overpass to the New Library of CMU, North Side of Grant

Another View of Library and Learning Commons

Top Picture Looking to North Campus, Field Where Library Will be Built
Bottom Picture Looking to South Campus Where Residences and Bookstore Are Located

It was just in 2009 that Canadian Mennonite University completed its last major construction project. At that time, the built a new science laboratory on the southern campus. And only two years, a massive residence was built on that site as well to join the other dorms. That new residence called Concord Hall was a 30,000 square foot, 42 unit building for 101 students. 

CMU has always had a strong residential component since taking over the former location of the Canadian Mennonite Brethren College in 2000. The CNBC campus, established in 1956 on Shaftesbury Blvd at Grant Avenue and across from the School for the Deaf  had a number of dorms for students.

The School for the Deaf which now serves as Founders Hall for CMU has served a numbers of roles in its history. The striking building was erected in 1921 and served as the School for the Deaf till World War II (1939-1945) when it became a training center for wireless operators. In 1947, the building was taken over and became the Manitoba Normal School and trained teachers until 1965. It was that year that the School for the Deaf returned and from 1996 remained there.

The building served as the administrative center for the Pan Am Games until 1999 when it was taken over by the three parters who would form the Canadian Mennonite University. A cairn was placed by the campus to commemorate the games and evergreen trees were planted to represent all the countries that participated: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, United States, and Venezuela.

In late 1999, the Pam Am offices wound down and the three parters for CMU took over. Those partners were the aforementioned Canadian Mennonite Brethren College, Mennonite Brethren Bible College/Concord College (1944) and Menno Simons College (1989). The Tuxedo campus was large and I am sure it was a built overwhelming for 1800 students and faculty. The northern and southern campus aspect meant that ill dressed students tramped down a gravel road from Founders Hall in the north to residences and classes in the south and vice versa. During a cold January waiting for a break in traffic without a coat must have seemed like an eternity. 

I am sure top officials as well as student dreamed alike of one day linking the two campuses. 

Well, now that day seems to have arrived. It will take $11 million but the first overpass over Grant Avenue is in the planning stages to link CMU as one. The library being center to it all. It is bold and it is good for the campus, the community and makes sense for traffic and logistics in every sense of the word. 

I know that the premier Greg Selinger is trying to find a reason to fund part of the campus expansion as it is not normal procedure to fund a private college. I have a suggestion if someone in the NDP government is listening. Make the overpass public.

Yes, that's right. Make access to the overpass public with entrances on south and north Grant Avenue and to ensure campus security, place pass card access for students and faculty to the building themselves. This gives students a secondary way down to the street level where many catch buses.

Anyway, just my two cents but for governments who need good reasons to chip in, this is one way to look at it.

I suppose I should mention that CMU is not limited to Tuxedo. In 2011, the college purchased 520 Portage Avenue across from the University of Winnipeg for Menno Simons College. This affirmed the strong and integrated relationship the college has had with the city university from the start.

I see a future for CMU that might be seen in what Concordia College is like in Fargo-Moorhead in Minnesota. While that college is much older, it has a similar religious and ethnic start. It is also strong in music and sport. At 2800 students, it is not much larger than CMU but punches way about its weight classification with a richness in programs and participation by students.

Might we see a CMU in the future with multiples buildings, many more students and faculty, top music, sport, business and education classes? I think the answer to that is yes. And if Tuxedo Golf course ever does go up for sale, it could do worse than have a university take it over.

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