Sudbury·Audio

Laurentian University to acquire Huntington's gerontology program

Laurentian University and Huntington University have negotiated terms following the severance of their federated relationship last week. As part of the agreement, Laurentian has acquired a program developed at Huntington.

Huntington to continue as an independent university and own and operate its buildings on Laurentian's campus

Huntington University will continue as an independent university and own and operate its buildings on the Laurentian campus, including its residence, a Laurentian University news release stated on April 7, 2021. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Laurentian University and Huntington University have negotiated terms following the severance of their federated relationship last week. As part of the agreement, Laurentian has acquired a program developed at Huntington.

Huntington's gerontology program will be delivered online within Laurentian's Faculty of Arts starting in the fall.

A spokesperson for Laurentian, Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé, says it is exclusively a transfer of course materials. Existing students will remain in the program and new students can enrol.

In a news release, Laurentian says no programs and courses at Huntington will be accepted as credits for a Laurentian degree after this term, and says all students currently enrolled at Huntington will be offered a path to graduate through programs and courses at Laurentian.

The chair of the gerontology department at Huntington, Krishnan Venkataraman, says he's still processing the news.

Krishnan Venkataraman is the current chair of the gerontology department at Huntington University in Sudbury. (huntingtonu.ca)

"I don't know more than anything that's stated. So at the moment, the only communication is that the program has been transferred over. I haven't received official communication from Huntington University regarding this, so I don't know my own status or the status of my colleagues in the department," he says.

"In a sense, it will come as a welcome relief for many students because they will not be switched over to any other program. I think it will be good in that sense."

Venkataraman says enrolment in the online gerontology course has been robust, and applicants come from across the province, as well as Canada. The course sees roughly 1,000 registrations each year.

For Laurentian to take over the program is a "financially prudent decision," Venkataraman says, adding that's because it is already prepared and ready to go.

"So it can be administered with relatively minimal effort. And the return on investment is pretty good."

Venkataraman notes that creating the online course has been "a double-edged sword, right from the beginning."

"There wasn't an online program even two years ago. We did this because we were facing what appeared to be an enrolment challenge, maybe six or seven years ago," he said.

It is hard to think of them as going away and being run by somebody else- Krishnan Venkataraman, Huntington University gerontology department chair

"We knew we would connect with the students that were interested in this program [by creating an online course]. But we were always aware of the fact that there was the potential for this program to move, with or without us."

Venkataraman says he and his colleagues are attached to the courses they've created.

"[The courses] are, in a sense, my babies, right? And maybe it's very cliche, very cheesy. Have we been compensated? For sure. But it is hard to think of them as going away and being run by somebody else."

He says he wishes the provincial government would step in and provide funding to support the university's programs, "so we didn't have to make these kinds of negotiations. That's what I would have liked to have seen."

Laurentian University has acquired an online program developed at one of its former federated universities in a negotiated agreement. Huntington University will be losing its gerontology program. Dr. Krishnan Venkatraman, the chair of the gerontology program joined us to talk about this development. 9:21

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