This is my busiest week on campus. I welcomed new graduate students yesterday and undergraduate students today.
I also attended the Annual Community Breakfast to recognize long and exemplary service of University of Guelph staff.
I am frequently reminded by former University of Guelph President, Dr. William Winegard, that when you look back at the history of our city, what we looked like 50 years ago or more, and the employers that comprised our city at the time, many are gone. There is one important enterprise that remains standing – the University of Guelph.
That will be true in 50 years as we continue through a period of unprecedented global change that is transforming the face of the planet and our community.
In my world, everything changed after the recent global recession. As a City we find ourselves in competition for investment and talent with cities around the world. We are changing the way we do business so the world does not pass us by – and for the better. We are becoming flatter, more agile and streamlined, and tech-savvy.
The University of Guelph did not endure and achieve its exceptional reputation for research and teaching by being a wall flower.
Guelph has not weathered the storms of the past – to be the prosperous and safe community it is today – by sitting on the sidelines.
Instead, we have always embraced the opportunity inherent in changing times by working towards a strong vision for the future.
The Better Planet Project is a shining example of defying the odds – raising an unprecedented amount of money during an economic recovery.
This is a tremendously exciting time for the University of Guelph, with the start of a new President and many new opportunities on the horizon.
The City and University are looking to the future and seeking to build a learning economy in our community.
We know that, while youth unemployment is too high across Canada, there are employers in key sectors – including many major employers in Guelph – that cannot find the talent they need.
We have a tremendous opportunity to re-align education and training – ensuring more young people can get good jobs in Guelph, while supporting the economic growth of our community at the same time.
The Guelph Innovation District presents an excellent opportunity for the University of Guelph to continue to build its presence in the city. This will not only be a place where great work happens – it will be a great work – a great work of building the sustainable city of the future.
Another opportunity is the Baker Street District. Currently an underused space – a parking lot on a piece of prime downtown land – this is to be the site of an education and learning hub with the Guelph Public Library and Conestoga College, and other partners. It will be an ideal place for the University of Guelph to bring programming to the heart of our city.
As we welcome a new President this year, it is an exciting time to look forward to the bright future of the University of Guelph. I know that this University will continue to make a difference in our community in all kinds of ways.
But of course, institutions don’t make a difference – people do.
And this is a great week to recognize the important contributions that the people at the University of Guelph – staff, students and faculty – make towards our health and prosperity as a community.