By Emily Bowers
It might not have been the reason the media horde descended on Ryerson Monday afternoon, but the ground breaking at the future site of the graphics communication management building was enough to make Mary Black smile.
“I’ve been working two years to make this happen and it’s finally going to happen,” said Black, chair of Ryerson’s GCM school.
The reporters and photographers came to see Jim Flaherty, Ontario’s finance minister and rumoured candidate for Premiership of the province as he toured the bland dirt-hole on Bond Street that will soon house the new $10.5-million building.
So far, the school has raised $8 million, said Black while chatting with onlookers in front of the construction walls that guard the site.
“We’re actually going to build a new building for the students of graphics communication management,” Black said.
The building is slated to open in fall 2002 and will expand the GCM program to accommodate the influx expected when two years of high school students — the double cohort — come storming into Ontario’s colleges and universities in 2003.
Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse said the new facility will put GCM students at the industry’s forefront.
“Our students will benefit a lot from this. Ryerson for students and (we want)… to be able to provide them with the most modern facility so that they are at the leading edge.”
Flaherty, who is considered to be a definite candidate for the upcoming Progressive Conservative leadership race, brought out Ryerson’s top administrators and posed for the cameras as they held shiny shovels and tossed some gravel aside in the construction zone.
In a quick speech, Flaherty said Ryerson is leading the pack in SuperBuild initiatives — the Ontario government’s $1.5-billion investment into college and university campus across the province. The GCM building is getting $4 million — half the cost of the building — from the province’s fund.
“This is a marriage of government using taxpayers’ money to encourage this kind of development,” Flaherty said. “This is part of the partnership… through the private sector with the money that is raised (by Ryerson).”
Black has been fundraising in the private sector for over a year. They’ve received several donations from companies in the GCM field including Quebecor World Canada. Company executive Chris Rudge was at the ground breaking and said Ryerson grads are key to the success of companies like his.
“They’re outstanding candidates for jobs and usually they accelerate through the industry much more quickly than the other students…,” Rudge, who co-chaired the fundraising committee, said.
Black said the building will be able to accommodate about 400 new students, allowing them to open up their enrolment.
“We have 600 people apply for 100 spaces (every year),” Black said.