Davenport discusses reform
By Sabrina Carinci
Western is trying to lead the way in enhancing university education throughout Ontario.
In Friday's Senate meeting, Western President Paul Davenport introduced a new initiative, entitled Strengthening Ontario's Universities: 2000 for 2000.
The strategy involves three proposals which include creating 400 new teaching positions in universities across Ontario, beginning in 1999/2000. Positions would be distributed based on the number of students enrolled in each faculty, with each position funded at a fixed rate of $50,000. The third proposal states universities will commit to spending $100 million by 2004 so that increased enrolments can be accommodated.
"The initiative is about why the university believes an increase in public support is vital at this point," Davenport said.
At a future date, yet to be decided, Davenport said he intends to present this initiative to politicians in hopes it will be adopted in time for September 1999.
"A lot of good initiatives come from London, not only for the community but for the university as well," said Joe Fontana, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada caucus and Member of Parliament for London North Centre.
Fontana said he was familiar with Western's newest initiative and believed it is very important the federal government becomes more involved in educational issues. "We want to put education at the forefront of the new millennium," he said. He added the strategy is important because it deals with forseeable issues such as the increase in students to post secondary institutions.
Dianne Cunningham, minister of intergovernmental affairs and Member of Provincial Parliament for London North, said she too was familiar with Western's latest initiative, though she is unsure about how feasible or realistic it might be.
"It's about jobs and education it's about the future," Cunningham said. She added the proposal sounds similar to a present program being run by the provincial government called Access to Opportunities which attempts to get students interested in various programs.
"This is a plan where the goal is to double enrolment in certain programs such as electrical engineering, computer engineering, communication engineering and computer science," she said.
Cunningham feels Western's proposal is a good idea because of its similarity to the Access to Opportunities program. "The goal is to get students where the province of Ontario needs them," she said.