U of W appeals for $20M
Paul confident corporate partners will support research centre
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The University of Windsor needs $20 million more from private and public partners to pay for its proposed $110-million engineering school and research centre.
The province announced last week it would give the university $40 million toward its Centre of Engineering Innovation.
The university has already raised $50 million through a bond, which leaves the project $20 million short. University president Ross Paul expressed optimism Tuesday about raising the extra $20 million. This fall, he said, U of W officials will start designing the building, pick a location or locations and attract corporate partners for financial contributions and to be tenants.
"There is a lot of interest" in the engineering centre, Paul said. "We have several corporate people working with us from the biggest to some small innovative ones. Some might just make an investment of equipment or financial aid. "The potential is incredible here."
Administration will report back to the board of governors within the next couple of months with more details. "We haven't asked anyone for a firm commitment," Paul said. "We've gotten letters of interest and support and now we have to deliver on that." Paul wouldn't say how many companies have said they would move into the "manufacturing courtyard" portion of the facility.
It was unclear Tuesday whether the entire centre would be open by the fall of 2009. Paul said the teaching portion might be the first section to open in two years. The university has to recruit corporate partners before embarking on building courtyard wings. "We want to get it right," Paul said. "But we recognize time pressures, obviously." University officials said they haven't eliminated downtown as a potential location for the engineering research centre, but they will choose a space on its appropriateness for the facility. "You don't start with a location, (if it benefits everyone in the community, Ross - yes you do!) you start with what do you need," Paul said. In a meeting closed to the public Tuesday, the university's board of governors gave university management the "green light" to pursue the Centre for Engineering Innovation, said Marty Komsa, the board's chairman. He said the board of governors "asked lots of questions and gave unanimous approval" to the project. "The momentum continues," said Marty Komsa, chairman of the U of W board of governors. "The excitement continues to grow." While the board of governors had already approved and paid for architectural plans for phase one of the engineering complex, the plan has to be redesigned because the entire facility is being done at the same time.
The manufacturing courtyard concept is what sold the province on funding the project, Paul said.
A courtyard is a wing of the new facility dedicated to a project or a corporation where company researchers, professors and students will work together on new research ideas. In its proposal to the province, the U of W said it would be "contacting Canadian and multi-national manufacturing companies ... to solicit the initial set of module occupants and begin developing workplans for the research that will take place in them."
Monica Wolfson, Windsor Star
We must get through to both the city's and the University's leadership that this is the only way to go if the ultimate goal of both administrations is the health and well-being of this community.