Thompson Rivers University will continue to look into alternative scholarship opportunities for Thompson-Nicola Regional District-based students after having a funding request rejected by the TNRD’s board of directors.
At its June 13 meeting, the board turned down the request for a $250,000 endowment fund for 10 scholarships of $1,000 each per year for students from the TNRD.
The proposal was crafted specifically for the TNRD’s consideration and won’t be pitched to other potential funders.
“The ambition was to create 10 new awards that didn’t exist, so we would still love to find support and create new awards,” TRU interim vice president of advancement Jeff Sodowsky said.
“We will keep pursuing opportunities to support more students and we will align the opportunities with the prospects and the potential funding partners that we identify.”
Asked if TRU could use surplus dollars to fund the endowment, Sodowsky said that money is usually invested in capital projects, which creates infrastructure to support students.
“There are more projects and capital needs on the university’s wish list than we have resources for, so the investment from community, government [and] corporations just allows us to do more,” he said.
TRU already contributes funds to scholarships and the advancement office looks for partnerships to expand those opportunities for students,” Sodowsky said.
“Until there is an opportunity for every student to have a completely free education, there will never be an end for more student support,” he said.
The proposal for regional tax dollars drew some criticism of the university during the TNRD meeting.
“It’s long been a feeling in our community that TRU has been neglecting its commitment to rural education,” Clearwater Mayor Merlin Blackwell. “They’ve been dropping the ball on that, reducing services for quite a few years now.”
Sodowsky said the comment highlights the need to do a better job communicating what the university is doing in the regional district.
“There are a number of activities, programs that are happening in our regional centres,” he said, noting TRU’s education and research station north of Clearwater and mobile trades training unit that operates in rural areas.
“As student demand from different regions fluctuates, so does the way that the university has to address the programming that it offers, but we take very seriously every effort that we have to try and serve those communities,” Sodowsky said, noting he respects the board’s decision.
“While I’m disappointed by the outcome, I’m certainly not disheartened,” he said.