MUN shutting down Math Learning Centre in fall

When the fall semester begins at Memorial University, the Math Learning Centre will be no more.

Centre provided foundation math courses to help prepare students for university math

Memorial University Dean of Science Mark Abrahams says the decision to close the Math Learning Centre was due to budgetary reasons. (Memorial University)

When the fall semester begins at Memorial University, the Math Learning Centre will be no more.

CBC News has learned that Memorial University, under pressure to find cost savings and make cuts, has decided to shut down the centre come September.

The Math Learning Centre, which is led by associate professor Sherry Mantyka, provides foundation level math courses to university students looking to brush up on basic math skills before taking Math 1090 — a required mathematics course for many degree programs at the school.

"The role of the Math Learning Centre is really to provide foundational mathematical skills for students who are not ready to take a for-credit mathematics course," said Mark Abrahams, MUN's Dean of Science.

When first year students arrive at MUN, the school determines whether or not they require a foundation math course by looking at their high school math grade or through a math placement test.

If the students fail the test, then they are required to complete three foundation math courses before enrolling in Math 1090.

Sherry Mantyka, a math professor at Memorial University, was a key advocate for teaching new university students foundational math skills. (CBC)

According to Abrahams, the decision to close the Math Learning Centre came down to the bottom line.

"The Mathematics Learning Centre is one area where we felt we could realize some considerable cost savings while minimizing our impact on students," he said.

"What we're doing then is we're providing a different approach to hopefully getting students through Math 1090 as opposed to offering the foundation courses that we have been doing for many years."

Instead of the foundation courses, Abrahams said the school will be offering Math 1090 as a 26 week course over two semesters for students who need more time to process the material.

"We're going to use that additional time to provide students with more examples, more opportunities for interactions with instructors and basically increase the length of time that they're working on that course."

With the financial pressures facing the MUN Science department, Abrahams said it's likely there will be more cuts in the future.


Andrew Sampson is a journalist with CBC in Halifax.