SUMMERSIDE – Holland College has officially opened its new downtown campus.
Students of the new Summerside Waterfront Campus gathered Wednesday with college officials, members of the business community, and politicians from all levels of government to mark the occasion.
The college purchased the Waterfront Mall in June of 2011 and have since transformed the property into a vibrant downtown campus for about 250 full- and part-time students and 260 continuing education students annually.
The new campus sits on 11.5 acres of waterfront land. The building is 157,000 square feet, including 37,000 feet of retail space. The campus includes the Holland College Marine Training Centre, adjacent to the former mall, and serves about 1,000 students annually.
College president Brian McMillan said Holland College has always been a significant contributor to the economic well being of Summerside.
“Annually, more than 1,300 college students receive post-secondary training in full-time programs and short courses in Summerside and the surrounding area,” he said. “Fifty-five per cent of those students come from off-Island. This statistic does not include the public safety in-service training that we do at the Atlantic Police Academy.”
McMillan said the spending done by the post-secondary students from Holland College results in an annual $12.3 million spin-off to the local economy.
“Not only does the college have a significant impact upon the economy of the Summerside area but our students also have access to a modern campus where they can acquire the skills that they need to enter the workforce with confidence while enjoying a more comprehensive and satisfying college experience,” McMillan said.
The college president said none of this would have been possible without the partnerships with the Government of Canada and the province of Prince Edward Island.
“The college has experienced tremendous growth in the last few years with the construction of new buildings, renovation and expansion of facilities at Holland College locations across the Island,” McMillan said. “Our federal partners and provincial partners have clearly demonstrated that they understand the importance of the role that Holland College has in the provision of responsive, relevant and accessible post –secondary educational opportunities.”
Michael O’Grady, vice-president innovation, enterprise and strategic development for Holland College, said since moving from Slemon Park to the waterfront location, enrolment numbers have increased significantly.
“We have seen a surge in enrolment this year,” he said. “The student numbers here at the waterfront campus compared to our Slemon Park facility, are up about 20 per cent compared to last year.”
McMillan said, along with all levels of government and senior college staff, there are other players who made the development of the Holland College Summerside Waterfront Campus a success.
“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the commitment of our staff, faculty and those members of management who spent their summer preparing for the move to this facility and who worked tirelessly to ensure that we could welcome our inaugural class of students in September of 2012,” he said.