Among highlights of the February meeting of Trent’s Board of Governors were a number of initiatives, plans and updates – including the approval of the forward-looking Trent Lands Plan and the celebration of a successful $5.6M fundraising campaign for Trent Durham – that, together, signal a strong and bright future for the University.
“While COVID-19 has presented challenges for all universities and sectors, Trent’s solid foundations in enrolment and good governance have allowed us to navigate the evolving situation and hold a strong financial position as we rise to challenges and capitalize on opportunities,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent. “Our steady enrolment signals demand for the Trent student experience as we continue to reduce our debt load and invest in initiatives that will secure Trent’s future as a viable and successful University for years to come.”
Among highlights reported at the recent Board meeting contributing to a strong financial position and positive outlook for the future are:
- Approval of Trent Lands Plan – A long-term vision for how the Symons campus will develop new spaces for learning and living while dedicating 60% of its lands as natural and green spaces. Taking the lead in best-practice campus consultation and planning, the Plan addresses some of the biggest challenges in our region – housing, employment, climate change and food security – and will provide a timely framework to guide post-pandemic economic recovery within the region.
- The Universities Pension Plan (UPP), a new multi-employer jointly-sponsored pension plan, will welcome the membership of the Trent University Faculty Association (TUFA) pension in January 2022. The transition to the UPP will result in positive financial implications for Trent, including relieving the University of the burden of significant solvency payments.
- Touchdown for the Campaign for Trent Durham, raising $5.6M in support of creating a new residence and academic building, which will play a key role in continuing to grow enrolment at the University’s growing campus in the Greater Toronto Area. The successful campaign is a sign of the strength of the Trent University Durham GTA campus, which opened a new residence and academic building in fall 2020 and significantly expanded its footprint through the purchase of real estate along King Street and Thornton Roads.
- “A” Bond Credit Rating – The DBRS Morningstar rating is a strong signal Trent is performing well on key measures that influence the market. Since Trent’s first debenture offering in 2017, this is the fourth year in a row the University has received an A rating.
- Cleantech Commons and campus developments: With a vision of becoming Canada’s premier green technology and innovation site, Cleantech Commons is set to bolster the region’s economic growth and bring job opportunities to Peterborough, as well as position the University well to advantage the global cleantech market, which is projected to exceed $3.4 trillion by 2022. Recent progress includes the continued installation of municipal services and the addition of some enhanced servicing features, including a new water main loop, that connects Trent’s DNA Building to a redundant water supply via Cleantech Commons. In addition to the Commons, other pivotal campus developments the Board also learned more about the recent completion of a new sector-leading Forensics Crime Scene Facility – a first-of-its-kind professional forensics training building constructed on a Canadian university campus which will also be Canada’s first zero-carbon building.
- 2021/22 operating budget – COVID-19 has added to sector-wide financial challenges at universities across the province, including tuition cuts and freeze, and reductions to OSAP funding and provincial grants tied to performance metrics. Within a highly competitive postsecondary environment, Trent is building on six years of enrolment growth and balanced budgets. This year, the University is holding steady on enrolment and is projecting an essentially balanced budget for 2021/22.
“Trent University prides itself on continued commitment to responsible governance and financial management,” said Board chair Armand La Barge. “Trent has demonstrated ample flexibility and resilience in the face of operating challenges resulting from COVID-19. Our community should feel confident that Trent is in a position to come through this pandemic stronger than ever, as we all look ahead to a more auspicious 2021.”