Things are falling into place nicely on a project that was fast-tracked in order to bring a university option to students in St. Thomas. The $1.1 million dollar building renovation was made possible largely through a $900,000 donation from the estate of Dorothy Palmer. Crediting city hall staff, contractors and Palmer Estate executor Andrew Gunn, St. Thomas CAO Wendell Graves noted on a recent tour of the school, “We have pulled out all the stops to get the building up to shape in time.”
Andrew Gunn noted his pleasure at being involved with bringing another post-secondary education option to St. Thomas, “You wonder after high school what to do…this is manageable in terms of finances…and it’s a great way to bring young people into the community and to retain young people.”
Site Program Coordinator, Donna Rankin, was also attracted to apply for the position, largely because of the Block Format model. She worked for fourteen years at Fanshawe College in St. Thomas as a student advisor and as an employment services counsellor and believes it is “an optimum way to learn” for many students and results in decreased mid-term anxiety. She noted that that enrolment in this year’s class includes students from ages seventeen to thirty-three.
Bringing Algoma U to St. Thomas has also been a win for a heritage building. It was important to both Algoma and Andrew Gunn to maintain the heritage attributes of the building and its ambience as a teaching place. Renovations were completed with the goal of retaining the former public school’s character, keeping many features such as woodwork, tin ceilings, and the old cloak room intact.
With so many win-wins for students and the community, there’s a definite positive vibe connected to the Algoma U project, one that can’t help but benefit the learning process for the nineteen people who will enter the second phase of their school year back in St. Thomas next week.
Find out more about the Algoma University program at http://www.algomau.ca/algoma-u-at-st-thomas/overview.