The University of Winnipeg continues to grow
By Carlyn Schellenberg
Beginning as the founding Manitoba College in 1871 and Wesley College in 1888, which combined to become United College in 1938, the University of Winnipeg was formed in 1967, when United College received its charter. Notable alumni include former U of W president Lloyd Axworthy; filmmaker Guy Maddin; musicians Chantal Kreviazuk and Fred Penner; and Susan Thompson, the first female mayor of Winnipeg.
The U of W is renowned for “academic excellence, indigenous scholarship, environmental commitment, small class sizes and campus diversity,” says Kevin Rosen, executive director of marketing and communications. With an overall 24:1 student-to-professor ratio, the university is noted for intimate classes, and a close connection between students and faculty. According to Rosen, in the past 15 years, the U of W has expanded its campus by 35 per cent and student enrolment has increased by over 50 per cent, with about 10,000 students currently enrolled.
The U of W evidently offers a range of very different fields of study. The faculties of arts, business and economics, education, kinesiology and applied health, and science constitute the undergraduate degrees available. Other programs include pre-professional streams such as pre-law, pre-medicine, pre-journalism, pre-dentistry, and pre-social work, to name a few. The U of W offers graduate degrees, including master’s programs in arts, science, theology, and marriage and family therapy. Joint master’s programs with the University of Manitoba in areas such as history, public administration and religious studies are also available.
Rosen says the U of W offers “some excellent lesser-known academic programs, including those in conflict resolution studies, theatre and film, plus the only human rights degree offered in Western Canada, as well as the globally unique master’s in development practice with a focus on indigenous development.” In addition, Professional, Applied Continuing Education (PACE) provides students with flexible diploma and certificate programs that can be completed full-time, part-time or online. The new “Serious Games” certificate program, a part of PACE, teaches students game design, allowing them to create their own storyboards, level designs, and prototypes.
The university is home to a thriving English Language Program, which delivers high quality learning to more than 500 international students seeking to enhance their English proficiency. The U of W also offers a certificate program for those looking to teach English as an additional language to adults, as well as language training via the Citizenship and Immigration Canada-funded English for Specific Purposes program. The program is geared towards permanent residents of Manitoba seeking to develop language skills needed for success in post-secondary education and employment.
The University of Winnipeg Students’ Association offers services such as the Womyn’s Centre, Aboriginal Students’ Centre, LGBT* Centre, a community garden, day care, free tax filing and a health plan. The plethora of diverse student groups includes the psychology students’ association, Association of Nigerian Students, Let’s Talk Science, Pre-Veterinary Club, and the debate society.
Situated in downtown Winnipeg on Portage Avenue, the University of Winnipeg campus is located in close proximity to a multitude of the city’s entertainment venues and restaurants, with numerous accessible bus routes. Stella’s Café & Bakery, the Smoothie Bar, Starbucks, Pangea’s Kitchen, Elements, and Garbonzo’s are among the diverse food options available on campus. Campus arts and culture destinations include Gallery 1C03, which stores the university’s art collection, and Virtuosi Concerts, an international recital and chamber series. The University of Winnipeg has engaged in discussion during the Axworthy Distinguished Lecture Series on Social Justice and the Public Good, on topics such as gender, religion, and secularism. It can’t get much better than primatologist Jane Goodall, who will be the second speaker in the series when she visits in September.
Last fall saw the completion of a new, $40-milllion state-of-the-art facility. The Health & RecPlex houses “a large multi-use artificial turf field, a four-lane rubberized sprint track, batting cages and a practice gym,” explains Rosen. “It has secure underground parking for 189 vehicles plus 66 spaces for bike parking. The RecPlex is connected by skywalk to the Duckworth Centre … and its facilities are available for student intramural games, community teams and the UWinnipeg Wesmen. The RecPlex also provides a safe place for neighbourhood children to get involved in sports, and houses the Great-West Life Healthy Campus and Research Centre, which hosts kinesiology research programs – including concussion and diabetes prevention.” Athletics at the U of W include men’s and women’s volleyball, basketball, soccer, wrestling and men’s baseball.
Future plans for the acclaimed university include UWinnipeg Commons – a 14-storey apartment complex behind the Winnipeg Art Gallery – under construction with a finish date of 2016. UWinnipeg Commons will provide rental options to students and the community. Current housing options for students include residence, a Homestay program for international students, and the UWinnipeg Downtown Hostel.
If the U of W sounds like the right fit for university, future students should check out the University of Winnipeg Collegiate, one of only four Canadian high schools located on a university campus, according to Rosen. He adds, “In addition to offering a quality academic experience and safe, nurturing environment for grades 9-12, the Collegiate is becoming a destination for music and arts-focused students, with a recently introduced instrumental band program (senior and junior bands) and a choral program offered in partnership with teachers of the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts,” now located on campus.