The Board of Regents of Memorial University has recommended that the official name of the institution be revised to add “and Labrador.”
“Given Memorial’s increasing activities in Labrador and our new Indigenization Framework, the vice-presidents and I proposed to the regents that it is important to add Labrador to the official name of the university,” said President Vianne Timmons.
‘In, by and for Labrador’
In recent years Memorial has expanded its presence in Labrador, through broadening the scope and mandate of the Labrador Institute (LI). The vision and plan in the 2019 Labrador Campus Strategic Task Force report reimagined LI as an academic unit evolving into a full campus serving the people of Labrador and the wider North.
The vision: “To build on the successes of the Labrador Institute and expand the programs, resources and infrastructure in Labrador to create a degree-granting campus of Memorial University, in order to provide university education in, by, and for Labrador.”
In 2020 the university established the School of Arctic and Subarctic Studies at LI – the first academic unit in Labrador – and academic program development is underway.
The university’s recent acquisition of the Grand River Farm in Happy Valley-Goose Bay led to the establishment of the Pye Centre for Northern Boreal Food Systems, a hub for community-led and Northern-focused food systems research, education, community connections, production and distribution in Labrador.
Regents approve change
At its March 2021 meeting, the Board of Regents approved the proposal to change the name of the university to Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Subsequently, this request was sent to Education Minister Tom Osborne for consideration, as the name of the university is established in provincial legislation.
“Indications are that the government may be favourably disposed to make this change at such time as the Memorial University Act is amended,” Dr. Timmons noted during a discussion of this matter at a meeting of the Senate, the university’s academic governing body.
“Having Labrador formally added to the legal name is significant and meaningful as we fulfil our special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Changing the name of the university to include Labrador is a logical step, says Dr. Jim Igloliorte, retired provincial court judge and former member of the Board of Regents.
“I am a proud Memorial University graduate, but nothing would make me more proud than to have Labrador, where I was born and raised, formally added to the name of the university of this province,” he said.
“This gesture of inclusion would confirm the university’s motto to be ever forward-looking.”
Modernizing the Act Respecting Memorial University of Newfoundland is one of the recommendations of the independent committee that authored the Public Post-Secondary Education Review report released April 29, 2021. It was also recommended in the report of the Premier’s Economic Recovery Team released on May 6, 2021.
Memorial University’s current official name, Memorial University of Newfoundland, is set out in legislation that dates back to 1949, when the House of Assembly of the then-new Province of Newfoundland approved the elevation of Memorial University College into a degree-granting institution.
The proposed name change is not a new discussion.
In 2001 the name of the province changed from Newfoundland to Newfoundland and Labrador.
In the wake of this, the provincial government asked Memorial University of Newfoundland, and other provincial-government-funded organizations whose names incorporated the province’s former name, whether they wished to change their names to reflect the new name of the province.
At the time, Memorial’s Board of Regents undertook consultations internally and externally on this matter in order to provide advice to the government. Options under consideration were to keep the name as is or to add Labrador.
Following the consultations held December 2001 to April 2002, the board recommended a compromise among the varied responses received: that the official name be shortened to Memorial University.
This recommendation was conveyed to government in 2002; however, no action was taken in response. Subsequently, the university adopted its current visual identity that includes a logo incorporating the words Memorial University.
“I think we will all continue to use a shortened form of the university’s name day-to-day,” Dr. Timmons said, “but having Labrador formally added to the legal name is significant and meaningful as we fulfil our special obligation to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Dr. Timmons notes that the name change will necessitate alterations wherever the full name of the university is used, including the official seal used on legal agreements and the ceremonial coat of arms logo used for ceremonial purposes such as parchments.
But the effort and expense will be minimal as the university will continue to use the Memorial University visual identity and will use up existing stocks, revising items as they need to be reprinted or replaced.