“The people of the Fraser Valley are going to see some exciting changes in the coming years,” says Larry Stinson, the new chairman of the board of governors at the University of the Fraser Valley.
But there are also some challenges ahead as the university struggles to find the funding to meet a growing demand for post-secondary eduction.
“We’re already, at this point, seven per cent over full occupancy,” Stinson said in a telephone interview Monday.
“One of our challenges going forward is how to accommodate everyone who wants to come to UFV,” he said.
Stinson, a Chilliwack lawyer, is taking over the chairmanship from Ron Thomson, former Abbotsford Times publisher, who steps down this summer.
The board is made up of local citizens, elected faculty, staff and students whose mandate is to oversee the management, administration and control of the university’s property, revenue, and business affairs.
Stinson said UFV’s new campus at the Canada Education Park in Chilliwack is expected to open in the spring of next year, with most programs from the old campus on Yale Road moved there by May, 2012.
The new campus at the education park will include an “aboriginal gathering place” which is part of UFV’s continuing effort to attract more First Nations students.
But Stinson notes that the number of high school graduates in the Fraser Valley who go on to post-secondary education is “somewhat lower” than the provincial average.
“That something we want to see remedied,” he said.
But the university must look for other funding sources, as competing demand for provincial government revenues increases.
A more entrepreneurial approach at the university is one possible remedy, Stinson said, with students and faculty entering applied research contracts with the business community.
International students are also a source of revenue, but their enrolment is presently capped at 10 per cent of the student population, which currently stands at about 15,400 full- or part-time students.
Because UFV is now governed by the University Act, it has a “bicameral” structure made up of a board of governors, which sets the philosophical direction to be followed by a senate and administration.
Stinson has been connected to UFV since its early days as a college teaching a variety of legal topics, and also occasionally serving as legal counsel.