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Faculty of Social Sciences building officially open

Christopher Radojewski | Fulcrum Staff

Photo by Justin Labelle

ALTHOUGH IT HAS already served thousands of students since the start of September, the new Faculty of Social Sciences building officially opened on Friday, Oct. 19. University of Ottawa administration, members of the faculty, elected officials, and students attended the ceremony that brought crowds to the foyer of the building.

Although the new building and renovations to Vanier Hall were finished later than originally projected, the speeches focused on the opportunities that lay ahead for the faculty. Social sciences dean Marcel Mérette said he is excited to have the whole faculty under one roof.

“This is really historical,” said Mérette. “[It] is a fantastic opportunity that the university is giving us… Not only are we able to have all units together, but we are going to be able to do much more things in terms of research [and] teaching that we never thought before. It will help us to bring this faculty to the next level.”

This is the first time the faculty of social sciences, the largest faculty at the U of O, has been united under one roof. According to Simon Larivée, president of the Political, International, and Development Studies Student Association, the major benefit for students was the consolidation of all the social sciences student associations in the same area—an effort to promote cooperation.

“Everything is perfect in this building,” said Larivée. “All the associations are together. It is easier to work with them. It is always better when we are close.”

The new building also offers students additional study space. With the rapid growth of the U of O student population over the past decade, limited study space has increasingly become an issue. According to its president, Ethan Plato, the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa has worked with the university to address the problem.

“A huge part of [this building] is the space it adds to campus,” said Plato. “It is very student-centric from what I saw, especially the first four floors. [Despite this construction,] we need more student space, period. The library, I know, is also on the plans of being expanded as well. For a library designed for under 10,000 students and now with almost [40,000], it is well overdue.”

Allan Rock, the U of O’s president, addressed the need for more space on campus in his speech. He discussed how the U of O continues to address space and modernize the campus.

“It is a milestone for the faculty and it is a great day for the university, too,” said Rock. “I think it represents in many ways all this progress that we are making on so many fronts. It is only one of five projects we have underway.”

The university has already started construction on the Advanced Research Complex while simultaneously finishing the new sports field at Lees campus. The construction of a consolidated faculty of health sciences building will also occur at Lees campus, and the Morisset Library has received funding from the province to begin expansion to better serve the student population.

The Faculty of Social Sciences building benefited greatly from a combined $80 million in funding from the province and the federal government, which complemented the $40 million provided by the U of O.

Dignitaries and students put the finishing touches on the building by planting the final flowers in the six-story living wall that towered above the ceremony. Mérette believes that the future is bright for the faculty.

“I think that we have everything now to move forward,” he said. “We have been moving forward for a few years already, but I think with this building we will be able to move at a different speed. That would make us, with respect to social sciences, one of the best places to be in Canada.”