Brescia University College in London, Ont., will be fully integrating into Western University as of next spring.
The announcement made Thursday said that both post-secondary institutions “agreed to a strategic integration” through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the governing boards.
University officials said that Brescia, Canada’s only women’s university college, will wind down its operations as an affiliated university college beginning May 2024.
“Today’s agreement is about meeting present needs of students, with an eye to the future,” said Lauretta Frederking, president of Brescia. “This agreement will better position us to enhance educational outcomes for students with the greatest needs.”
The “all-girls” university college was founded in 1919 by the Ursuline Sisters, who were “instrumental” in expanding education and Catholic institutions in early 20th-century southwestern Ontario.
Frederking said their goal in establishing Brescia was to “bridge gaps in women’s education.”
“I am incredibly grateful for their legacy and for their support in planning this next chapter,” she said.
Now with roughly 1,200 registered students, the campus offers a wide variety of subjects in the Schools of Behavioural and Social Sciences, Food and Nutritional Sciences, and Humanities.
“I am proud of the vibrant and welcoming culture that many students have come to know at Brescia, and believe this proposal will allow our students, faculty and staff to build on that legacy in a manner that is responsive to the changing times,” said Sr. Theresa Mahoney, community leader of the Ursuline Sisters of Chatham.
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“We are now at a point where women make up the majority of post-secondary learners in Canada and there is an equally important need to adapt to new realities, including the underrepresentation of equity-deserving groups in our postsecondary institutions,” Frederking added.
“This agreement will better position us to enhance educational outcomes for students with the greatest needs.”
Along with the integration, the MOU outlines plans to honour Brescia’s legacy as Western is also set to create a $25-million Brescia Legacy Fund to support access to education through scholarships, bursaries and programs.
Alan Shepard, president of Western University, highlighted the “deep historical connection” between both institutions, calling the integration “an opportunity to chart a new path that stays true to those roots.”
“What we are contemplating together aligns beautifully with Western’s strategic plan, including bold innovations in education.”
According to the University, the planned integration will involve “several commitments,” including allowing current Brescia Students to complete and remain in their current program for the duration of their degree.
“Western will assume Brescia’s assets and liabilities and will provide Brescia’s full-time faculty, current contract faculty with sessional appointments, full-time staff and permanent part-time staff with employment offers,” the statement read.
The university will also identify all available employment options for Brescia’s contract faculty and staff.