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Wilfrid Laurier University

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Wilfrid Laurier University (commonly referred to as Laurier or WLU), is a Canadian public research university located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Laurier has several other campuses, such as in Toronto, Ontario (Canada's largest city), Brantford, Ontario, Kitchener, Ontario and in Chongqing, China. It is named in honour of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the seventh Prime Minister of Canada. The University offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields.

Laurier claims to be one of Canada's best and fastest-growing smaller universities ("enrollment has doubled in five years"). Laurier currently has more than 16,000 full-time undergraduate students, 720 part-time undergraduate students, 860 full-time graduate students and 590 part-time. The full-time staff and faculty number 540 and 970, respectively, according to an undated report on a WLU web page.

In spite of the stated growth, Laurier announced a reduction in staff by 22 on March 9, 2015, to battle a projected $25-million deficit in the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Three additional management jobs that were vacant at the time were also eliminated and the University planned to reduce (an unstated number of) faculty positions through voluntary retirement, not renewing some limited-term academic appointments and reducing teaching assignments for contract academic staff. Laurier president and vice-chancellor Max Blouw explained that the university had been experiencing a decline in revenues (government funding and tuition constraints) with a fairly quick growth in expenditures (pension costs and aging infrastructure). "Because salaries and benefits make up about 80 per cent of our operating budget, we really couldn't avoid finding some of the savings except through workforce reductions," Blouw said.

The main campus in Waterloo sits in the heart of Canada's Technology Triangle while the area along Highway 401 from Toronto to Waterloo is sometimes called the "Silicon Valley of the North" because it is said to be second only to Silicon Valley, California as the world’s second largest innovation corridor.

More specifically, the twin cities of Kitchener, Ontario and Waterloo, Ontario ("KW") have the largest concentration of tech companies in North America apart from California.

History

The history of Wilfrid Laurier University dates from 1910 when the Lutheran Synod decided to establish a seminary, which opened to students in 1911, as the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary of Canada. Though the location first proposed was Toronto, Waterloo was selected when its citizens offered a tract of land on the boundary of the town. The choice of location was affected, too, by the fact that Waterloo and Berlin, Ontario (known as Kitchener since September 1, 1916) had very large Lutheran populations.

In 1914 the Seminary developed non-theological courses under the name of the Waterloo College School. In 1924, the Waterloo College of Arts was established, offering post-secondary three-year programs. Waterloo College of Arts became affiliated with Western in 1925. Waterloo College soon began to offer Honours degree programs in the arts.

Laurier's school colours of purple and gold originated in 1927: maroon and gold were the colours of Waterloo College, but to honour the link with the University of Western Ontario, whose colours were purple and white, maroon was discarded in favour of purple.

The Waterloo College Chapel features several stained glass windows including "Light of the world" (1941) and "Christ in the garden" (1940) by Robert McCausland Limited.

The University of Waterloo was originally conceived in 1955 as the Waterloo College Associate Faculties (WCAF), a semi-autonomous entity within Waterloo College intended to operate an expanded science program. UW was incorporated as an independent university in 1959.

In 1960, the Lutheran church relinquished its sponsorship of Waterloo College. As a church-affiliated institution, it was ineligible for capital funding from the province, and the Lutheran church was in no position to invest heavily in the university. The Seminary obtained a revised charter changing the name of the institution to Waterloo Lutheran University. The school also ended its affiliation with Western at that time. The Lutheran church maintained control of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, which federated with Wilfrid Laurier University.

Wilfrid Laurier University was established as the provincially provincially assisted Wilfrid Laurier University on November 1, 1973, after Bill 178 was given Royal Assent by the Lieutenant Governor, former Wilfrid Laurier University Chancellor William Ross Macdonald. The Act was amended in 2001.

Laurier opened a second campus, in Brantford, Ontario, in 1999, and in 2006 the Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work moved from the Waterloo campus to a campus in downtown Kitchener. The Brantford campus is centred on a number of historic properties in the downtown area which have been restored for university use. They include a former Carnegie library, Brantford's 1880 post office, and 1870 mansion, and a 1950 Odeon Theatre. The Kitchener campus is located in the historic and fully renovated former St. Jerome's high school building.

In October 2008, the University was named one of Waterloo Area's Top Employers and featured in the Waterloo Region Record and Guelph Mercury newspapers.

Waterloo Lutheran Seminary continues to operate in affiliation with the University and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada.