University is a key economic player MacKinnon tells business luncheon
The University of Saskatchewan is a major economic player in Saskatoon and it is working hard to become an even more successful institution in the city.
U of S President told about 130 people at a Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce luncheon March 30 the University is determined to build on its strengths and become a world-class facility in all it does.
In his annual speech to the Chamber, MacKinnon said the U of S already has a number of major accomplishments to its credit, and it has some strategic advantages that will lead to even more success.
And the president invited Saskatoon’s business community to become more involved in the University and help it to achieve success for itself and for the people and the economy of the city.
“To serve Saskatoon and Saskatchewan the best, we must be among the best (in the world),” MacKinnon said.
He said the U of S is “a responsible and engaged member of the business community in Saskatoon ... and a key driver of economic, social and cultural development in Saskatchewan.” And he noted the University already accounts for as much as 20 per cent of the city’s economic activity.
MacKinnon told the Chamber members the U of S attracted $107 million in research grants last year, has nearly 20,000 students including 1,200 international students from around the world, has 7,500 employees, and is host to the $174-million Canadian Light Source synchrotron. All this generates a huge amount of economic spinoff in the city, he said.
And MacKinnon said the University is poised to be even bigger and better.
“It’s not good enough to be just ‘good enough’.”
MacKinnon told the Chamber luncheon the University must capitalize on its advantages, which don’t just include the synchrotron or spinoff businesses in Innovation Place.
“We are the only Canadian university with the combination of human, animal and plant-life studies on one campus. This along with CLS and the Vaccine & Infectious Disease Organization (VIDO) make for “a science cluster unmatched in Canada.”
MacKinnon noted there has been criticism that the University isn’t supporting the liberal arts, but he said the facts show otherwise.
He said “we are taking steps on campus to address this concern”, and the University is also working to improve its accountability and connection to the Saskatoon community.
He said the U of S “is the leading Canadian university for Aboriginal student enrolment,” with up to 2,000 on campus now, and 50 in Engineering.
He also said not all educated youth leave: two-thirds of 1995 U of S graduates still live here.
The president said the University is engaged with the local community – looking forward to celebrating the city’s centennial in 2006, its own centennial in 2007, and events like the Vanier Cup national football championship in fall 2006.
“Saskatoon is a university community,” MacKinnon said, and he invited businesspeople to connect with it and help to build it.