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Bahen Centre opens

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With a new $105 million state-of-the-art facility on campus, U of T hopes to become a leader in the growing field of information technology.

The eight-storey Bahen Centre for Information Technology, at 40 St. George St., celebrated its official opening on Tuesday night.

The building has been open for classes since the beginning of the school year. Government representatives and U of T President Robert Birgeneau attended the formal inauguration.

The new facility, which is the twelfth building on campus to be shared by both engineering and arts & science students, measures almost 37,000 square metres, with 50 labs and almost 6.5 kilometres of fibre-optic cable. It has enabled the university to double enrolment in its high-demand IT programs.

“The Bahen Centre will help ensure that Ontario remains competitive in today’s knowledge-based economy,” said Ontario Finance Minister Janet Ecker. “It will offer world-class facilities for world-class students.”

Ecker attended the ceremony in the place of Premier Ernie Eves, whose government’s SuperBuild program contributed $24 million to the project.

Other funding came from the Access to Opportunities Program, the University Infrastructure Investment Fund, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund, along with many private sector donations.

Representing contributions from the private sector were donors Dr. John and Margaret Bahen, alumni of U of T.

“Information Technology is having a significant impact on business and virtually all aspects of our economy,” said John Bahen, himself a civil engineer, who used the opportunity to thank all the people who helped realize his vision.

Also in attendance were Chancellor Hal Jackman, dean of applied science and engineering Tas Venetsanopoulos, dean of arts and science Carl Amrhein, and Chair of Governing Council Thomas Simpson.

“U of T is now home to one of the very best public research facilities in the whole world,” said Venetsanopoulos.

But not everyone enjoyed the event. With a section of the first floor closed off during the event, confusion was rampant among students trying to find an alternative way to get to their classes.

“How do we get to class? Do we even have class?” shouted one student as he ran down the hall. Other expressed their frustration at the disruption. “Grand opening? I’ve been coming in and out of here for three months,” said another student. “And why is it by invitation only?”

Complaints aside, this new centre will be home to more than 3,000 undergraduates from the departments of computer science, computer and electrical engineering, engineering science and the new mechatronics and information engineering divisions.