Transforming New Brunswick's digital future | UNB
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Fall 2021

What's Happening at UNB

Transforming New Brunswick's digital future



McKenna InsituteSpurred by the COVID-19 pandemic and a lifelong dedication to propelling New Brunswick and its people forward, Frank McKenna (LLB’74, LLD’88) is advancing a bold, actionable vision to seize a pivotal moment for a prosperous technology-enabled province.

Officially announced on Sept. 7, McKenna has invested $5 million in UNB to establish the McKenna Institute and will lead a campaign to raise $50 million for it to fulfill its mission of fuelling economic growth and social progress in New Brunswick through digital means.

“New Brunswick is well-positioned to emerge as a major centre in our country’s digital ascendency. We just need to be bold and determined enough to seize the tremendous opportunity before us.”

The McKenna Institute will serve as a catalyst and a connector for academia, industry and government to foster a globally competitive digital economy and society. It is rooted in driving abroad, multi-faceted agenda for digital transformation, while maintaining a strong outward gaze and seeking best practices.

“In 2021, more than ever, digital technologies offer a path to global relevance, prosperity and growth,” says UNB President Dr. Paul Mazerolle. “UNB will be a crucial player in feeding the emerging technology ecosystem. There is significant opportunity in front of us and, through the McKenna Institute, we can achieve this transformation.”

The institute aligns with UNB Toward 2030, the university’s strategic plan, which emphasizes responding to society’s great challenges and creating the New Brunswick of tomorrow.
Digital technology holds great potential for New Brunswick, allowing it to overcome traditional limitations such as size and location, now even more so.
“The pandemic ignited possibilities that have been smouldering for some time. New Brunswick is ready to seize them,” says McKenna.

UNB has played a central role in New Brunswick’s long history of using technology to create opportunities, enhance competitiveness and drive social change. UNB’s faculty of computer science is a vital partner in the McKenna Institute’s mission to harness technology’s positive, transformational potential for New Brunswick.

The faculty is a critical source of knowledge and talent, and a crucial focus for applied research and the commercialization of big ideas. It has embraced its role in advancing digital applications for economic growth and social development, welcoming engagement with the McKenna Institute and its stakeholders.

Technology is already transforming every faculty and field at UNB, from the humanities to forestry, engineering and beyond. From the classroom to the field, we embrace digital across the board. It is transforming every aspect of campus life and activity, from how we deliver education to our research tools.

Adrienne O’Pray (MBA’92) has been named the inaugural executive director of the McKenna Institute, leading innovation and engagement across disciplines. She brings deep leadership experience and a passion for economic and social development in New Brunswick.

“New Brunswick has tremendous strengths to build on for us to succeed in a digital world,” says O’Pray.

“By bringing together those who share this excitement about our potential, the McKenna Institute will play a key role in driving our economy toward a bright future.”