By Amanda Brodhagen, Farms.com
Rumours were put to rest today, as the University of Guelph confirmed that it will be suspending enrollment at its Kemptville and Alfred campuses by 2015, located in Eastern Ontario.
“We are operating in an era of scarce resources,” Alastair Summerlee, University of Guelph President said in a release. “We must make difficult decisions together with changes that minimize duplication and preserve programs that are unique and central to our mission.”
The announcement was made ahead of Kemptville’s 100th anniversary, which would have taken place in 2017. Kemptville College is located 30 minutes south of Ottawa, Ont., where approximately 550 students are enrolled.
Alfred, on the other hand, is the only postsecondary institution in the province to provide instruction on agriculture, geared towards the Franco-Ontarian farming community. The tiny college currently has 128 students. The campus is located between Montreal and Ottawa. Efforts are being made to offer similar programs for Francophone students who applied for fall admission.
Both campuses formally became part of the University of Guelph’s Ontario Agriculture College (OAC) in 1997.
Enrollment at both campuses will be suspended for fall 2014, but students who have already started their programs will be able to complete their diplomas before the doors close at the end of 2015.
The university’s Ridgetown campus and its New Liskeard Agriculture Research Station are unaffected by the closures.
According to the release, research projects at Alfred and Kemptville will be relocated to Ridgetown. But the university says it plans to continue its field crop research at Alfred and Kemptville.
“Despite efforts over the past several years to introduce new revenue-generating educational programs and attract new students, enrolment at both campuses remains stagnant while operating costs have increased,” the release said.
The closures will cut 75 full-time jobs in Kemptville, and 37 positions in Alfred, not including part-time and seasonal workers. Summerlee says the university plans to work with the affected employees to provide counselling, severance packages and some opportunities to transfer to Ridgetown or its main campus in Guelph.
In a letter obtained by Farms.com, addressed to OAC students, dated Oct. 15, 2013, there were signs that consolation could take place. The letter, written by Robert Gordon Dean of OAC, warned students about future budget cuts.
“Our identified budget reduction for the College is $2.7 M which will need to be implemented over the next 3 years,” Gordon said in the letter.
While the letter made note of the college’s budgetary challenges, it also boasted about OAC’s accomplishments. It mentions that enrollment growth at its regional campus associations and diploma programs had increased by 20 percent, especially in Ridgetown. “Our enrollment growth at Ridgetown has been substantial,” he said.
Gordon concludes the letter by saying:
“The next few years will again be challenging but it will be more important than ever before to continue to meet province wide priorities in service to the OMAF-RA partnership as well as further developing innovative approaches to meet the learning expectations for all of our academic programs. I'm confident however, that our College will continue to be a global leader in teaching, research and service.”