Western University and Brescia University College have begun a process that will see Brescia fully integrate with Western as of May 2024, at which point it will wind down operations as an affiliated university college.
The move was initiated by Brescia’s president, Lauretta Frederking, with endorsement from Brescia’s Board of Trustees, who saw an opportunity to extend Brescia’s legacy while responding to an increasingly diverse undergraduate student body. “This agreement is about meeting the needs of today’s students and finding new ways to realize the vision of our founders,” said Frederking.
Founded in 1919 by the Ursuline Sisters, Brescia was built on the idea of bridging gaps for women in higher education, said Frederking. “Today women make up more than half of students at most universities. As we celebrate that, we also have an opportunity to consider how we can remove barriers for other equity-deserving groups – and this agreement will do that.”
In addition to integrating Brescia’s current students, faculty and staff into the Western community, the agreement will establish broader pathway programs to help more students access and prepare for a university education.
Western will assume all of Brescia’s assets and liabilities, and will create a $25-million Brescia Legacy Fund to support scholarships, bursaries and programs for promising domestic and international students who may otherwise face barriers to university.
Western’s president, Alan Shepard, said this integration aligns well with the university’s strategic plan, which includes a bold vision for innovation in education and a commitment to creating a more equitable and inclusive campus community.
“Western and Brescia have a deep historical connection,” said Shepard. “Now, what we are contemplating together stays true to those roots while charting a new path – one that creates more opportunities for an increasingly diverse and dynamic student body to experience a world-class education.”
Since its founding, Brescia students have received Western degrees and have been part of the broader Western community.
The integration aims to allow current Brescia students to complete their program of study and remain in their current residence. Brescia’s full-time faculty, current contract faculty with sessional teaching appointments, full-time staff and permanent part-time staff can choose to continue their employment with Western. The university will also identify available employment options for Brescia’s contract faculty and staff.
The integration was endorsed by Sr. Theresa Mahoney, community leader of the Ursuline Sisters of Chatham. “We applaud the foresight and creativity of this new venture, which is in keeping with our mission to provide greater access to education for women and other historically marginalized groups,” said Mahoney. “It is a bold and exciting development that will benefit both Brescia and Western students.”
Western will establish a transition steering committee, chaired by the provost and the vice-president (operations and finance), to manage the operational details that will ensure a smooth integration. The provost will also establish an advisory committee that will include representation from Brescia and Western’s senate. The committee will facilitate the academic integration of the two universities and bring feedback forward for the steering committee’s consideration.
Visit Brescia University College to learn more.