The Oct. 15 groundbreaking of St. Thomas More College’s expansion in Saskatchewan was attended by, from left, student union president Desireé Steele, board member Kieron Kilduff, president Terry Downey, dean Carl Still, CFO Derrin Raffey, director of mission and ministry Gertrude Rompre and student Philomena Ojukwu. Photo courtesy of St.Thomas More College

Groundbreaking at St. Thomas More

By  Reagan Reese Seidler, Youth Speak News
  • November 2, 2012

SASKATOON - St. Thomas More College, a Basilian-founded institution federated with the University of Saskatchewan, is expanding its walls to accommodate increasing enrolment.

The official groundbreaking of its three-storey, 12,000 square-foot expansion occurred mid-October. The $8-million project is designed to serve the varied and growing needs of its students.

New classroom and seminar spaces will move 75 per cent of the college’s classes inside its own walls. Currently, about half of STM classes are taught elsewhere on the University of Saskatchewan campus. At focus groups early in the design process, students said that classes located on-site allowed for a more comfortable atmosphere to discuss scholarly work from a Catholic point of view.

“This new building, our first major expansion in many years in spite of significant enrolment growth, ensures adequate classroom space to foster the nurturing scholarly learning environment for which STM is already well known,” said STM president Terry Downey.

“This new facility will enhance community for students, promote further opportunities for closer faculty-student and student-student academic engagement and ensure a continuation of the uniquely inspiring learning experience that is the STM academic tradition.”

In addition, new study, office and research spaces will give students a place to meet outside the classroom, while the construction of a large, indoor atrium offers a more social gathering place. The project follows through with a vision set out by Fr. George Smith, the Superior General of the Basilians and a former president of STM, who intended to make the college a second home for its students.

STM Students union president Desireé Steele is enthusiastic about the project.

“I look forward to welcoming friends into a building made hospitable to the different aspects of student life. More classrooms, study and lounge space means that more students will be able to enjoy learning at STM,” she said. “The increased opportunities for STM to explore and share the riches of our Catholic faith will no doubt broaden our interactions with our university and diocesan community, giving fuller realization to the Basilian mission which formed this institution.”

The expansion, to be finished in 2013, was recently put on the fast-track with two major donations. David and Karen Holst from Warman, Sask., and Allan Markin of Calgary have each contributed $500,000. The announcements were made in conjunction with the Oct. 15 groundbreaking. The project also received early commendation from the Catholic community, including support from the Saskatoon diocese and school board.

The donations coincide with another $1-million gift the college received earlier. Local philanthropists Les and Irene Dubé made the donation in support of STM’s parallel campaign to establish an endowed chair in Catholic Studies.

The chair will support scholarship in the area of Catholic Studies through teaching, research and ecumenical dialogue and be a source of intellectual leadership in the province’s Catholic community.

“STM is near and dear to our hearts,” said Irene Dubé. “We are strong believers in the importance of a college that encourages students to explore both faith and reason, and the chair in Catholic Studies will be a vital contributor to this environment.”

This is not the Dubés’ first donation of this magnitude. A previous $1-million donation was made in support of the college’s social justice program. To recognize their longstanding commitment to the college and its students, the chair will be named in their honour.

St. Thomas More College was founded in 1936 through an agreement between the University of Saskatchewan and the Basilians to provide Catholic education in the province. Since then, it has grown to house 40 tenure-track faculty members and more than 2,000 registered students.

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