SACKVILLE, N.B. – Mount Allison struggled with a dip in enrolment this year but university officials are hoping numbers will start to rebound by next fall.
Robert Inglis, the university’s vice-president of finance and administration, said Mount A had planned for 700 first-year students this fall – but fell short of that number by 100 students.
“That number is relatively low compared to other years,” Inglis told members of Sackville town council during their discussion meeting last Monday night.
The decline obviously results in a “shortfall in our budget” for the year, but Inglis said the university will use its financial reserves to make up the difference this year
“We should be able to accommodate that drop this year.”
Inglis noted that recruitment efforts have been amped up for next year and the university hopes that the entering class can be increased to a more traditional level of about 650.
As is the case with other Atlantic Canadian universities, Mount Allison has been facing challenges with recruiting new students over the past few years, as a result of demographic decline in the Maritimes and stiffer competition.
Inglis said Mount Allison is currently working on three larger renovation projects on campus that will hopefully draw more students to the university.
Work is continuing on converting the former fine arts building on York Street into a ‘research and learning centre’ focused on the WET sciences such as biology and environmental studies, said Inglis. The exterior work should wrap up this winter, with the interior work then getting under way.
Work is also taking place to upgrade the chemistry building, “a 50-year-old facility that needed a great deal of work,” said Inglis.
The university also recently wrapped up the planning phase for work on Windsor Hall, the university’s largest residence. Inglis said Windsor, which is located across from the Avard Dixon building and situated next to Jennings dining hall, will close in May for a “complete interior refurbishment.”
“That’s a significant project and will bring that residence up to current standards, both in terms of building systems but also in amenities students expect in residence today.”
The upgrade will include a multi-purpose room on the first floor, which will prove useful for groups wanting to use that facility throughout the summer conference season.
Inglis said the search for a new university president is continuing along as expected, with the field of candidates to replace outgoing president Robert Campbell expected to be narrowed down by early in the new year.