Bishop’s University has been educating students from the Eastern Townships for 174 years. It has had a satellite campus in Knowlton since 1995, but a for-sale sign in front of the building on Knowlton Road is a signal that the university is about to abandon this community. That would be a shame. It is not as if the university is running out of money. Bishops has raised a record $100 million from private and public sources since 2012. Student enrolment is at a record 2800, including students fleeing the US for a less expensive education in a more serene political environment. There are more Asian students as well.
Building and endowment programs at Bishop’s Lennoxville campus suggests robust good health, yet the closure of the Knowlton campus sends the opposite message. As so eloquently stated, in a letter to The Record by two students: “The Knowlton campus is a small but bright gem in our community. The student population comes from across the region: Knowlton, but also as far away as Granby, Waterloo, Abercorn, Stanbridge East, Sutton and Bromont. Knowlton is a central spot for these students to unite and study. The campus is magical, embracing students of all ages, income levels, walks of life and is a model of francophone/anglophone mutuality. The decision to create this campus was brilliant. The decision to shut it down is tragic.”
It is surely possible to find other spaces in downtown Knowlton that could be rented as classrooms thus eliminating the cost of owning and running a building. This was done from 1995-2004, until Bishop’s bought their present campus. Today it is easy and inexpensive to use tools like Skype to host a lesson where the professor is one place and the students in another. Then, Bishop’s could not only continue to operate its satellite campus in Knowlton, but provide more ambitious and academic courses so that more students can complete their bachelor’s degrees, and more retirees can expand their horizons.
There has been a huge outpouring from both past and present students and many have signed an on-line petition asking Bishop’s to reconsider. TBL is planning a meeting with Bishop’s and, sure- ly, a downtown campus, or classroom could be part and parcel of the revitalization of downtown. Education itself is an attraction and would draw more people to the area.