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Op-ed: Dr. Rob Greenwood

By design: Memorial ‘inseparable’ from Newfoundland and Labrador’s future

Part of a special feature focusing on how the Memorial community is contributing to the direction of Newfoundland and Labrador.

By Dr. Rob Greenwood

For faculty and staff at Memorial University, our special obligation to the people of the province is top of mind.

That special obligation, written into the very legislation that created Memorial, is the reason it is the only university in the country with a Public Engagement Framework approved by the university’s Senate.

And it is the reason that virtually everyone in this province has some connection to Memorial — it’s not simply by chance, it’s by design.

This university was designed to have a positive impact on the people of this province, and since Confederation (and before, with Memorial University College), Memorial has been central to driving social and economic innovation, as well as fostering and educating the leadership of this province in all sectors.

Monumental impact — and responsibility

Through my work with the Harris Centre, I have been fortunate to have visited many parts of this province to meet with community, business and government leaders and citizens.

Often at the start of those meetings, I’ll ask folks to put up their hands if they are Memorial graduates. It’s mind-blowing! Most of the time almost all of them raise their hands.

People from all sectors of the economy, from businesses, from health care, you name it, and from towns and communities in every nook and cranny, have had some or all of their post-secondary education at Memorial. That alone, is a monumental impact on this province, but it is also a monumental responsibility.

Tasked with the education of the future leaders and drivers of our economy, our communities and our families, Memorial must focus on thoughtful innovation and on every student’s learning experience.

“Students and researchers bring these opportunities and demands back into the university, informing the curriculum and emerging research projects.”

Increasingly, students are demanding opportunities to apply their learning and research in co-op placements and internships and other forms of experiential education. As they work with businesses, non-governmental organizations and governments, they are sharing their learning with their employers and project partners.

And, in turn, they are learning how organizations and communities are adapting to changing conditions and opportunities as technology changes, the demographics of the province evolve and new opportunities demand new approaches. Students and researchers bring these opportunities and demands back into the university, informing the curriculum and emerging research projects.

It’s about facilitating a bridge between the classroom and real-world experience – Memorial University students and the province as a whole benefit from that.

Partnerships above all

This constant learning and adaptation is the essence of innovation.

Memorial researchers build on the base of their fundamental research and connect it through applied projects, partnerships and commercialization to enhance every sector of our economy and society, understand and respond to change, and inform policy decisions that impact us all.

We know that teaching and learning and research, creative activity and scholarship are all enhanced when we partner with the people and organizations and communities of our province (and beyond).

“Without [anchor institutions] you don’t generate the networks of firms that create economic clusters.”

It is for this reason that the university has grown to be an integrated part of the environment of the province, but in many ways, so integrated that it’s easily taken for granted.

Our four campuses in the province (St. John’s campus, the Marine Institute, Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, and the new Signal Hill Campus), as well as the three locations of the Labrador Institute, five locations of the Marine Institute and the Bonne Bay Marine Station, together with the College of the North Atlantic campuses, are what economic developers in the U.S. describe as “anchor institutions.”

Without them you don’t generate the networks of firms that create economic clusters – the basis of innovation in the global economy. You don’t get the health-care workers who connect with every hospital, health clinic, doctor’s office and pharmacy in the province.

You don’t get the integrated, sustained, positive impact over generations past and momentum for the future.

You can’t separate the future of our province and Memorial University. Visit www.yaffle.ca and look at the range of expertise and projects that we are doing now, or enter a new opportunity and help us build the future together!

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