The Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS) is bulging at the seams, making the Ontario government’s investment of $21 million to renovate the Richard Ivey School of Business building welcomed news to dean Tom Carmichael.
“Currently in North Campus Building and in Staging (building), we are, even by provincial standards, about 12,000-square feet short of space,” says Carmichael. “Moving over to the Ivey building will enable us to unpack things we are doing now and things we project to do both in the research and curricular side as we move through this decade.”
London West MPP Chris Bentley visited The University of Western Ontario Wednesday, June 29 to announce the investment to provide new space for FIMS and the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing.
“How do we take a building that was designed for business students and their needs and make it work for others?” says Bentley. “There are many places to put funds, but we know you will put these funds to excellent use and really build brighter futures for our students.”
The new Ivey building is currently under construction on Western Road and is slated for occupancy in September. But once students and faculty move out of the current building, plans can begin to renovate the former facility to offer much needed space for nursing and FIMS.
The added space will allow FIMS to establish a virtual world research centre, a news lab for media and news research, and a media-viewing centre, says Carmichael.
Similarly, Jan Polgar, Faculty of Health Science associate dean, scholarship, says the added space will enable the faculty to bring teaching facilities up-to-date for nursing students.
“Right now our nursing students are in old facilities that really don’t allow them to have the new technology or new options for them,” Polgar says.
There is currently one hospital simulation laboratory, the Clinical Education Suite, in the Arthur & Sonia Labatt Health Sciences Building and Polgar hopes more can be integrated into the new space. This will give students more opportunities to practice clinical skills before entering the hospital environment, she says.
As well, expansion of Health Sciences’ research centres is on the wish list and will greatly benefit graduate students, she adds.
“We are spread out all over the campus, so to have nursing this close to the Health Sciences building is also going to mean a lot more collaboration and interaction across the schools and departments,” she says.
The provincial government investment means Western can move ahead with the Ivey renovation plans and “it won’t be dependent on us having to raise other sources of funds. It’s a project we can actually now move from a conceptual stage into a planning stage,” says Janice Deakin, provost and vice-president, academic.
The planning stage is expected to be completed in 2012. In spite of a provincial election scheduled in the fall, Deakin says the government funding is committed and secure.
“It’s a fabulous announcement. We are very excited and grateful to the Ontario government for their ongoing support of initiatives at Western,” she says. The government continues to show its firm commitment to the postsecondary sector.”
While the Ivey building may have innovative classroom space, renovations will be needed to suit the needs of FIMS and nursing.
“For both media studies and nursing, there are some very specific curricula components that will require purpose-built and very specific space,” Deakin says. “So this $21 million will be a major part of the funding we will use to get this building up in a way that becomes a 21st century facility with the appropriate infrastructure so the appropriate pedagogies can be delivered.”