By Matt Kwong
Ryerson will propose a new business building as part of the next wave of the Ontario government’s Super Build Growth Fund.
Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse said he wants to see a new building operational by the year 2005. He said the goal for the new building would be to bring all of Ryerson’s business programs, including ITM and retail management together under one roof.
“Our business faculty, we can be very proud of it, but right now it is spread through many buildings,” said Lajeunesse. “This would allow them to work together with more synergy, within a building and we look forward to that.”
Super Build was set up by the Ontario government to provide partial funding for public projects throughout the province.
The deadline for submissions for new Super Build projects is Jan. 27, and Lajeunesse said Ryerson will have a detailed proposal ready.
The new business building will be Ryerson’s only submission for this round of funding.
In the first round of Super Build funding, Ryerson received money for three buildings: The Centre for Computing and Engineering, The Centre for Graphic Communications Management, and the Sally Horsefall Eaton Centre for Studies in Community Health.
Business did not propose a new building at that time.
“The faculty of business was not ready,” said Lajeunesse.
Once the proposal has been submitted, Lajeunesse said the next step will be to wait for it to be considered by the Tory cabinet sometime in late February or early March.
“God knows when we will hear back from them,” he said.
The first round of Super Build funding was intended to create room for 79,000 students. This round will be much smaller, Lajeunesse said, and will only create 13,000 spots.
“We hope that we are successful with government,” he said. “It’s going to be a very tough competition.”
As it stands, the current business building has drawn complaints of overcrowding.
Because of the uncomfortable conditions, some professors, such as business management professor Vanessa Magness, are making requests to hold classes outside of the building.
“We don’t have rooms big enough for the capacity of students that we’re putting into a section,” said Magness, who teaches in the Rogers Communication Centre instead.
Overcrowding is a looming concern now, especially with the expected influx of double cohort business students who will be enrolled in the new term.
Tania Montemarano, a second-year business marketing student, said some classes are so overstocked that 10 or 20 students stand or sit on desks during lectures. But this is only one of the problems facing staff and students with classes in the building.
In addition to poor ventilation and loose floor tiles in some classes, many of the building’s class ceiling projectors aren’t functioning.
The building once operated as the Carling O’Keefe brewery for over a century until 1967. Consequently classrooms originally configured for the factory are unsuitable for the needs of some professors who instruct here.
Support columns that remain from the Carling O’Keefe offices are often a hindrance during George Gekas’ lectures. The professor of business management said the current facility is definitely insufficient. “There are pillars blocking, and the wings of the classroom can’t be seen, so I have to pace up and down at the end of the platform to be able to see my students,” he said.
Gekas said he’d like to see some sort of theatrical seating in a new building to eliminate this problem. However, like other faculty members who work at 285 Victoria St., he isn’t completely sold on yet another promise for a new building. “When you leave projects on the announcement board for far too long, people become doubtful.”
Since she began working at Ryerson in 1972, business management professor Teri Prince said she has seen countless committees that rallied for a new department building. “We’ve started talking about a new building since the late 80s,” she said. “Really, it’s an absurdity there isn’t one.”
One of the difficulties about the building is the lack of working electronic connections, said Prince.
The business facility recently encountered problems trying to set up a computer network because of the building’s concrete walls.
Jane Monro, a coordinator in the business program, said she’s happy with the renovations in recent years – new washrooms, some upper-level windows, and a newly-restored lobby that includes a small café.
But although some patchwork has been done to make the atmosphere feel more inviting, she feels that business students deserve more. Monro isn’t satisfied that I doesn’t measure up to the standards set by other business schools.
“We’ve got a top-notch business school here. I really think the building should match the quality of our students.”