Despite COVID-19 delays, the University of Saskatchewan’s Prince Albert campus reopened this Sept. 3, in time for the start of the term.
The campus is finished with renovations and preparing for limited in-person teaching. The reopening is the culmination of a project that has been ongoing for over six years now. In 2018, the university bought the new campus building after multiple years of teaching in leased spaces. Since becoming the future home for the campus, the building has been undergoing renovations to accommodate a larger number of students and the expanding course offerings.
The building is now ready to become an official U of S satellite campus. Patti McDougall, vice-provost of teaching, learning and student experience, says that it was a joy to work on this project and now see it fulfilled.
“It took us many years to get here and I think that’s because we needed to land on the right place that was best for our University of Saskatchewan students in Prince Albert,” McDougall said.
“But I’m confident that we’ve done that. I’ve not been to the site in a while, but I am so excited to get to that place where we can welcome our students, all of our students, into the physical space.”
Although the building is done, there are still more changes to come on the side of programming. McDougall says that there are a number of courses and certificates on their radar for the future like commerce from the Edwards School of Business, engineering and additional science programs.
Talking about the university’s Indigenization goals, McDougall says that the U of S hopes to expand the courses and programs offered for the Indigenous student population in Prince Albert. Over half of the students in the Prince Albert campus are Indigenous students.
McDougall says that all the buildings, except for the dental clinic, have finished renovations. COVID-19 impacted requirements for dental clinics to run in Saskatchewan, which caused delays in opening the clinic.
“We were able to quickly regroup,” McDougall said. “And although there were incremental costs associated, we were able to implement those regulatory changes to the dental clinic.”
The College of Dentistry’s clinic is where senior dental students will be treating patients on campus and it is set to open in early October. Senior dental students will work in the clinic on a rotating basis of a few weeks at a time throughout the year.
With the campus being located in Prince Albert, McDougall hopes that it can be a gateway to expanding the university’s reach in all of Saskatchewan. While the project was formerly known as the Northern Gateway Hub, the university has discontinued that title after noticing that for people in Prince Albert the new campus is “a gateway to the south”.
“We can never be too Saskatoon-centric… So we stopped calling it the Northern Gateway because we realized that that was unfair and it was too narrow,” McDougall said. “But it is for sure an all-directions gateway and we anticipate people using it in that way.”