On Wednesday morning, the Right Honourable Brian Mulroney, 18th Prime Minister of Canada, officially announced plans for StFX’s new Brian Mulroney Institute of Government. Thus far, Mr. Mulroney, in partnership with his daughter, Caroline Mulroney Lapham, and Frank McKenna, StFX alumnus and former Premier of New Brunswick, have fundraised over $60-million to fund this initiative.
For the past four years, Mr. Mulroney has been traveling around the world soliciting donations for the Institute of Government. Brian and Mila Mulroney have personally donated $1-million to the initiative. Dr. Kent MacDonald, President of StFX, announced that the expected total fundraised will reach $75-million by the time the Institute opens in late 2018.
The former Prime Minister delivered an inspiring speech to an auditorium full of students, faculty, university administrators and benefactors, and community members. Mr. Frank McKenna, the Honourable Randy Delorey, and Dr. MacDonald also addressed the large crowd.
Mr. Mulroney spoke fondly of his days at StFX, recalling how the values inculcated in him on this campus have had a long-lasting influence on his political career. He called upon current students to rise to the challenge of servitude and leadership. “Defeat is not something to fear, but surrender is something to reject,” he proclaimed. “I learned on this campus that failure is not an option.”
The Honourable Randy Delorey, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Finance and Treasury Board and StFX alumnus, echoed Mr. Mulroney’s statement. “The alumni of today are the students of yesterday,” Delorey commented, “As students of today, you will be the alumni of tomorrow. It all starts here at StFX.” Mr. Delorey also announced the provincial government’s $5-million contribution to the project.
The Mulroney Institute will replace Nicholson Hall, the main teaching site on campus, with the mandate of becoming ‘Canada’s leading centre for undergraduate education in governance and public policy’. Nicholson Hall will be demolished once classes for the 2016-17 academic year conclude. The $40-million Mulroney Institute will be built adjacent to Nicholson Tower, and will become the new centre of campus. An 18-month construction period is set to begin on May 1, 2017, with the Mulroney Institute set to open in January 2019.
The 75,000 square-foot Institute will feature 16 new classrooms, a 300-person auditorium, and a recreation of the Prime Minister’s Office. The Mulroney family has donated several historical artifacts from Mr. Mulroney’s time in office, including personal correspondence with Nelson Mandela and Ronald Reagan and art donated by the late American Senator Ted Kennedy, to be displayed in the Office and throughout the building.
The Institute will also feature a large atrium area where students can study and gather. According to Andrew Beckett, Vice-President Finance and Administration, the idea is for the Mulroney Institute to become the new ‘living room’ of campus.
The building was initially slated as a $50-million project. These designs had to be scaled back once it was announced this summer that StFX did not receive any funding from the federal government’s Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund (SIF). The Board of Governor’s approved the scaled-down project on September 30, 2016.
Architecture firms SmithGroup JJR and Nycum & Associates partnered on developing the bridging documents for the Mulroney Institute over the summer months. With these foundational plans in place, the university put out a request for proposal (RFP) for a firm to take over the project, which received eight applications. Of these candidates, the university selected three groups to participate in a design build competition this fall. The successful firm will be chosen later in the winter.
The design of the building will incorporate the university's strategic objectives of indigenization, internationalization, and inclusivity, and will be committed to accessibility. The Mulroney Institute site will feature a more gradual transition from lower to upper campus, which will be wheelchair accessible.
The project will greatly disrupt campus life for 2017-18, yet StFX hopes to minimize the impact of construction. The university is still evaluating options for relocating classrooms while the Arts facility is offline.
The new Mulroney Institute is accompanied by StFX’s new BA in Public Policy and Governance, which has been approved by the University Senate and will launch in September 2017. Next fall, first and second-year students will be able to enrol in the core PGOV classes and pursue an Honours, Major, or Minor in the subject. The PGOV program is spearheaded by Dr. Doug Brown from the Department of Political Science, who is also serving as Interim Director of the Mulroney Institute.
To supplement the Institute for Government, $10-million raised from private donors will be dedicated to an endowment to fund six Research Chairs. Dr. MacDonald was especially pleased to announce the Irving Shipbuilding Chair in Arctic, Marine, and Security Policy, which has been fully funded. Hiring for this position will be conducted by Kevin Wamsley, Academic Vice-President and Provost, and faculty members in the weeks to come.
While the university and the Mulroney family are still finalizing the remaining five Chairs, Dr. Macdonald was able to announce the Chair for Canada-U.S. relations, a Chair for Climate Change and the Environment, a Chair for Human Rights and the Advancement of Women.
Another $10-million will be invested for scholarships and bursaries for the Institute, with $1-million dedicated specifically for indigenous students in the program.