Canada’s first private, non-profit university will be built on a site three-kilometres north of downtown Squamish, overlooking Howe Sound. Squamish Mayor Corine Lonsdale and Dr. David Strangway signed a Memorandum of Understanding April 29 which officially tied the planned liberal arts and sciences university to the community. Strangway also announced that the non-profit university foundation — the Howe Sound Educational Foundation — has accepted an offer of approximately 1,000 acres of land for university purposes from Amon Lands Ltd., the family-owned company that has held land in the Squamish area for more than 25 years. The company was founded by J.C. Tiampo and its current chairman is his grandson, James Tiampo. The land is at the end of Mamquam Road, past the Squamish Valley Golf and Country Club. Strangway also acknowledged and thanked other landowners in the district for their interest in working with the new university, including forest company Merrill and Ring, Newport Ridge, Wilf Doward and Garibaldi at Squamish. The decision to locate the university in Squamish was made last December following extensive discussions with the district and the communities of Whistler and Nelson. Whistler, Squamish and Nelson were short-listed as potential sites after more than a year of reviewing locations in 15 B.C. communities. Strangway said the yet-to-be-named private university has already begun to recruit an international advisory board to make recommendations on university governance. Later this year, a high-level academic advisory board will be appointed to assist in curriculum and program development, and a community liaison committee will be developed to represent the board needs of the community and the university. Once in full operation, in 2002-2003, the undergraduate university is expected to serve between 800 and 1,200 students-in-residence per year. Its primary focus will be on the global community and its goal will be to attract half of its student population domestically and half internationally. The intake of students will be in the range of 200 per year. Canada has developed a system of universities almost entirely funded and controlled by provincial governments. As the system has developed, post-secondary institutions in Canada have differentiated themselves extensively to provide a wide range of educational experiences, such as: medical/doctoral, comprehensive, and undergraduate. However, there is considerable need for further diversity in learning opportunities. In countries such as the United States, Japan, Mexico and Korea, there are a variety of both public and private universities. Britain, Germany and Australia have started private universities in the past few years as an alternative model of university development. Like the Aspen Institute in Colorado, the new university will offer short-course programs to promote understanding in areas such as public administration and business administration, through Pacific Institute for Advanced Studies lectures. These will be made available to the broader community in the Squamish area. The university is envisioned as a year-round educational experience. Thus, a full four-year undergraduate degree program could be completed in two and a half years, or less, if the student is admitted with advanced credits such as an international baccalaureate diploma. This is expected to be a major attraction for Canadian and international students. Construction of the project will be phased over the next five years. The first phase will consist of the construction of academic and administration buildings; activity support facilities; student/faculty/staff residences; and market housing. In a report drafted by Strangway, current estimates indicate that the total construction cost of the campus will be in the range of $120 million — $80 million in capital costs, $20 million in market land development and soft costs, and an additional $20 million in debt financing. Approximately 500 acres of land is required to fulfil the university’s initial needs, of which about 300 acres will be developed for market housing to finance the first phase of the project. The residential component will be funded through a mortgage that will be serviced through student fees. The academic core and scholarship endowment fund will be funded through additional land provided for market housing development. It is anticipated that faculty and staff will purchase a significant number of units around the campus and elsewhere within the community. The additional development is also necessary to keep tuition at "reasonably attractive levels."