Bolt: What does it mean to be the President of Concordia University of Edmonton, and what does it mean specifically for students?
Dr. Loreman: The role of the president is, not to be the president of the faculty, or the be the president of the staff, or even the students. It is to be the president of the institution. All those groups are under your leadership. I look at myself as maybe a leader of students but more as a supporter of students. The relationship that I want with students is to be their main supporter.
Bolt: You have said that you want CUE to become the preeminent small university in Canada, what does this mean for students now, and down the road as CUE grows and changes at a fast rate?
Dr. Loreman: I can tell you that students who are graduating now are going to have the benefit from an enhanced reputation later on in their careers. CUE degrees will be more widely recognized nationally and internationally. We have increased retention, students used to leave after their first year and go somewhere else but that doesn’t happen any more. I put that down to the quality of the classes and the education that the students are getting.
Will it change the institution growth wise? Growth will enable us to achieve in a greater scale. We will be able to put more resources into our classes, our scholarships, and our research. Four-thousand is the stated cap on students, but that does mean doubling in size. That is where we are going to stop, but that is still not a large university. Four-thousand will allow us to keep the small class sizes, good relations with the professors...every student that I have talked to has said that the thing that they like most about Concordia is the small community feel and the direct relationship with the professors.
Bolt: What will the physical university campus look like?
Dr. Loreman: We need more buildings.
Bolt: Obviously we don't have enough class space and the new building that is sprouting up on the south end of campus will be important for keeping those small class sizes. We are already feeling the strain on class space and student services.
Dr. Loreman: Very soon we need new dorms and better dorms. Our instruction space is being managed okay but where we are really feeling the stress in general is student study space and social space. We are also finding faculty offices are very tight. This new building will relieve some of the pressure for new offices and a little bit of the pressure student space. We are trying at the moment to do our best with the space we have. You may have noticed that there are tables in Tegler for students. We are also doing some renovations in the next few months to the other two levels of the library, to the welcome center, to our student enrollment area, and we are moving different areas around such as career services to put them in a more appropriate place and to also have more space for the students to study.
Bolt: Is Concordia going to become a Public institution?
Dr. Loreman: Ultimately whether we become public is a decision made by two bodies. One of those bodies is our board of governors who would have to decide ‘ yes, we are willing to become public,’ and then the other one is the government. It has to decide they are willing to take us on. Our board this year is examining this issue. We have had three reports written on the viability of this. Each report has said that for our long term sustainability we should consider going public. If we were to become public, what would that look like for us? The government has told us that they are going to be examining those same things. I have met with our board chair, Mike Wade, and the Minister for Advanced Education, Marlin Schmidt, and we discussed this issue, it was a very positive meeting. WE should have a clear view at the end of this calendar year as to what is going to happen. Our objective is to ensure Concordia is sustainable in the long wrong.
Bolt: There have been rumblings of another UPass referendum. What is your perspective on what Concordia’s responsibility is towards making the campus more accessible?
Dr. Loreman: Whether Concordia is public or independent will not affect the UPass. the UPass is going to come down to what students want. And students are going to vote for what they want. In my opinion, I think that the Upass is good for the institution, and the reason being is that the Upass has expanded to include surrounding communities such as Sherwood Park, Leduc, St. Albert and I think maybe even Spruce Grove. What is good about it for the students is that it is greener and will relieve pressure on our parking, it will allow more mobility between institutions.
Bolt: What is your favourite thing you have seen at Concordia?
Dr. Loreman: It’s kind of a sad one and I speak about it here emotionally. We had a student in education who was very sick with cancer and diagnosed during her program. And probably my favourite thing was seeing her convocate given all the difficulties that she had. It wasn’t just that I was very happy for her that she graduated but it was also how the faculty, the staff, and her fellow students pulled together. I have never seen a tighter community.