Front and Centre zeroing in on $500 million, province non-committal on $150 million commitment

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The University of Manitoba announced Saturday that its Front and Centre fundraising campaign has passed the $400 million mark.

U of M President and vice-chancellor David Barnard and Front and Centre campaign chair Paul Soubry joined the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) executive on the football field during halftime of the homecoming game to announce the campaign has to date raised more than $409.3 million.

The fundraising campaign was announced at the same game a year ago with the aim of collecting a total of $500 million.

Barnard recognized a 10-year, $15.9 million commitment from the student union toward the campaign and declared that University Centre on the Fort Garry campus will now be known as UMSU University Centre.

“This is a proud day for our students, and for our community of alumni, many of whom are celebrating Homecoming this week,” Barnard said. “Today, we recognize the incredible impact that students themselves have on this community – an impact that continues well after graduation.”

Only a fraction of the UMSU donation – $2.4 million for new daycare spaces – will be directly administered by the university.

The remaining fees, amounting to roughly $13.5 million, will be managed by UMSU and count toward the Front and Centre campaign in name only.

Since the campaign began, 342 new student scholarships and bursaries have been created, 29 buildings have been upgraded, and 16 new research chairs and professorships have been created at the U of M, according to a university release.

More than 25,800 donors have contributed.

The $409 million tally includes a $150 million commitment made by the previous NDP provincial government before it was defeated in a spring election.

The new Progressive Conservative government, led by Premier Brian Pallister, has not made clear whether it will honour the commitment.

Pallister, who remains uncommitted to more than $600 million worth of outstanding NDP promises, told media, “I don’t plan to be held accountable for desperate NDP promises made in their final days.”

U of M executive director of public affairs John Danakas said in an email the university is continuing to hold discussions with the province on the matter.

“As the president has stated a number of times, the University of Manitoba continues to have positive discussions with the province,” he said. “The campaign priorities align with provincial priorities.”