As Sunday’s Franco-Ontarian Day approaches, the university, which first raised the Franco-Ontarian flag in 1975, is taking steps to offer courses by Francophones for the first time as an institution. The University of Sudbury recently submitted documents to an independent review board, so it hopes to open its doors to students soon.
Chancellor Serge Miville affirms that Sudbury’s Francophone community has “never been closer” to getting the university it has dreamed of for a century: an autonomous, public, French-language institution. Since its founding more than a hundred years ago, the university has been affiliated with other institutions, including Laurentian University, except for the three-year term. However, the contract with Laurentian ended in 2021 when they canceled the contract, seeking refuge from creditors.
The University of Sudbury then began a transformation to survive and become fully francophone. “We are the first institution to say: we will stop being bilingual and become French,” explains historian Serge Miville. In this sense, the project of the university is a symbol of the philosophy of the green and white flag, which represents the strengthening of the Franco-Ontarian community in particular. Rector believes that he can contribute to these powers.
To achieve this and to obtain state government status as a state-funded degree-granting institution, the university must undergo a rigorous approval process. On August 22, the institution submitted an important document for this process to the Commission on the Evaluation of Quality in Postsecondary Education (CEQEP). CEQEP is an independent Ontario organization that, among other things, assesses the ability of universities to offer courses before making recommendations to the Minister of Colleges and Universities. The minister has the last word.
The submitted document details the institution’s administrative capacity to accommodate students. This is done prior to the evaluation process with independent experts who analyze the dossier and then prepare an evaluation report. The university administration will respond in turn and then send it to the board of directors of CEQEP. Serge Miville prefers not to comment on its evolution, other than to say that he is “really happy with where the university is at,” citing the confidentiality of the process.
Financial costs of divorce
According to Serge Miville, if the province is satisfied with PEQAB’s assessment, the status it could grant to the University of Sudbury would allow it to receive provincial funding and thus provide quality programs. The rector says that the public wants the university to get status and become a private university. However, as shown in the presentation, the institution’s financial situation also indicates the importance of state funds.
The termination of the agreement linking the University of Sudbury with Laurentian University until 2021 has “abruptly cut off” the institution’s funding, a document submitted to PEQAB reads. To help with its transformation efforts, the federal government awarded the university $1.9 million in March. The amount is intended for preparing a business plan and supporting the institution in the PEQAB process. Serge Miville confirms in his interview that the fact of obtaining this amount is “not trivial”. “These are real achievements,” he says.
In its presentation, the institution claims to have demonstrated its administrative capacity since its inception in 1913. Among other things, he notes that he Academic Freedom Policy “Recognizing and protecting the rights of individuals to seek knowledge without fear of organizational retaliation.” The university still has it Organizational Evaluation Policy involves an evaluation of its administrative processes and policies every seven years.
Serge Miville has an entire community behind him, from people who have worked on the file for 50 years to Franco-Ontarian students to support him in his efforts. “We would benefit from preventing the exodus of young Francophones from the North,” says Marie-Pierre Héroux, a University of Ottawa student whose program at Laurentian was canceled in 2021. the next Franco-Ontarian day,” said Serge Miville. “I’m very happy and satisfied with where we are,” he said.
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This story is supported by the Government of Canada-funded Indigenous Journalism Initiative.