Planned reopening to the public on Wed. April, 1 has been postponed until further notice. Additionally, all events hosted at the centre are suspended until further notice. Staff are working and can be contacted here.
Ref. No.: 47
The Johnson GEO Centre Foundation has donated to Memorial University the infrastructure and assets of the Johnson GEO Centre , including GEO Park and other adjacent lands under lease from the provincial government, effective April 1, 2019.
First opened to the public in 2002, the Johnson GEO Centre is a geologically focused science centre located on Signal Hill in St. John’s. Designed to be a “showcase of Earth and space,” it was developed by the late philanthropist Dr. Paul Johnson, with assistance from some Memorial University Earth Sciences faculty members.
“The Johnson GEO Centre Foundation’s board of directors is delighted to see the centre become part of Memorial University,” said Bruce Grant, chair of the board.
He said the offer of the gift to Memorial was driven in large part by a need to finalize the affairs of the estate of Paul Johnson, which has continued to fund the operations of the centre through the Johnson Family Foundation.
“The board members decided to look toward a long-term continuance plan that involved an agency with a proven track record of excellence,” Mr. Grant said. “The synergy possible by entrusting the GEO Centre to Memorial University was ideal – education, public engagement and economy of scale. This donation also realizes Paul Johnson’s long-term vision for this natural history facility, which he cared about so much that it bears his name.”
Under the terms of the gift agreement, the name of the centre will continue as Johnson GEO Centre , recognizing the important legacy of its founder, businessman and community benefactor Dr. Paul Johnson.
“As a public university serving the public good, Memorial University is pleased to enable the continuing operation of the Johnson GEO Centre , an important educational and tourism attraction in the St. John’s area,” said Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president of Memorial University. “The Johnson GEO Centre aligns well with the university’s teaching and learning, research, and public engagement mandate, and will be a valuable complement to the university’s Botanical Garden and Signal Hill Campus, particularly the Emera Innovation Exchange conference centre there.”
The Johnson GEO Centre draws approximately 50,000 visitors each year and is the site of about 130 events annually. The value of the Johnson GEO Centre and assets is estimated at more than $20 million, which would make it the largest single gift ever received by Memorial University.
Memorial University accepted the generous donation after completing an assessment of the synergies, facilities, operations and finances, and developing a business case premised on the university being able to operate the centre on a cost-neutral basis. Acceptance of this extraordinary gift of property required approval by the university’s governing Board of Regents and, in this case, necessitated approval by the provincial government, in accordance with The Memorial University Act.
“Dr. Paul Johnson’s legacy includes many great contributions that have enriched the lives of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, including the Johnson GEO Centre , which has served as a place of learning, an attraction and an event space,” said Premier Dwight Ball. “I am pleased to see this part of Dr. Johnson’s legacy continue through Memorial University, and look forward to many more residents benefiting from the facility in the future.”
President Kachanoski thanked the provincial government for its support for this initiative.
He also thanked Johnson Inc., the St. John’s-based insurance firm that has facilitated and supported the transition of the Johnson GEO Centre into Memorial University, honouring the legacy of Paul Johnson, whose family founded the firm.
“In light of the university’s financial situation, the university would only accept the gift if the operations of the Johnson GEO Centre could be cost-neutral to the university’s operating budget and therefore not negatively impact our core operations,” Dr. Kachanoski said. “The university’s assessment and business case determined that the centre could be cost-neutral for the university to operate by implementing economies of scale and shared services with other Memorial units and by streamlining the centre’s operations.”
He added that the Johnson GEO Centre will become part of Memorial’s Signal Hill Campus and the university’s operation of the centre will be the responsibility of its Public Engagement division. The management of the Johnson GEO Centre is being added to the duties of the director of the Memorial University Botanical Garden and the centre’s conference and events activities assigned to the director of the Signal Hill Campus.
All facilities and events booking contracts in place at the time of the transfer will be honoured and these clients will be contacted by the new management within the coming week to confirm arrangements.
Upon recommendation of the Johnson GEO Centre board, centre staff have been offered short-term employment in their current roles while the university conducts a human resources review.
“An event to celebrate this extraordinary gift, and the donors and partners who helped make it a reality, will be held at a later date,” Dr. Kachanoski noted.
For further information, please contact Dave Sorensen, communications, Memorial University, at (709) 685-7134.
Official Media Release – December 7, 2018
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – The Johnson GEO CENTRE announced today that it plans to update and expand its ExxonMobil Oil and Gas Gallery, a major exhibit designed to educate visitors about the oil and gas industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, thanks to a $2.2 million contribution from the Hebron project in recognition of its first year of operations.
Planned upgrades include a larger gallery space, updated exhibits, new technology and the installation of an interactive drilling simulator that will showcase the Hebron platform’s drilling rig and processes. Visitors will use controls to virtually maneuver the machinery associated with drilling a well.
ExxonMobil Canada Properties (as operator of the Hebron project and on behalf of the Hebron co-venturers), along with the Hebron Project Employers’ Association, will fund the exhibit upgrades. The updated gallery is expected to open to the public in 2020. The Hebron co-venturers are ExxonMobil Canada Properties, Chevron Canada Limited, Suncor Energy Inc., Equinor Canada Ltd. and Nalcor Energy-Oil and Gas Inc.
“The new exhibit will increase the public’s understanding of the province’s offshore environment, and the addition of the drilling simulator will provide real-world experience of working on a platform,” said Carman Mullins, president of ExxonMobil Canada Ltd. “We hope it inspires our young people to develop their talents and pursue careers in the industry.”
“The Johnson GEO CENTRE receives upwards of 50,000 visitors each year, including students, tourists, and the general public. Our state-of-the-art facility will be further enhanced with the upgrade to the ExxonMobil Oil & Gas Gallery, which will greatly improve the visitor experience,” said Judy Rudofsky, Executive Officer at the Johnson GEO CENTRE.
“The Hebron employers at Bull Arm are proud of the work we completed for the project, which is a world-class facility. Now that our work has concluded, we are pleased to donate funds to the Johnson GEO CENTRE,” said Steve Graves, executive director of the Hebron Project Employers’ Association.
About the Johnson GEO CENTRE
The Johnson GEO CENTRE is a world-class geological interpretation centre located on Signal Hill in St. John’s Newfoundland, Canada. The Johnson GEO CENTRE was created to make it widely known that Newfoundland and Labrador’s landscapes, scenic coastlines, great rock formations, turbulent seas and underwater domains, though rugged and sometimes harsh, are not only very beautiful and bountiful, they tell the amazing Geological History of our Earth. GEO aims to make people of all ages excited and informed about science, including our natural history, our resources and resource industries, and science and technology in general. The Johnson GEO CENTRE is a not-for-profit organization, and a registered charity. For additional information visit www.geocentre.ca.
ExxonMobil Canada Properties (35.5 percent) is the operator of the Hebron project. Its co-venturers are Chevron Canada Limited (29.6 percent), Suncor Energy Inc. (21 percent), Equinor Canada Ltd. (9 percent) and Nalcor Energy-Oil and Gas Inc. (4.9 percent). For more information about the Hebron project visit www.hebronproject.com.
About Hebron Project Employers’ Association (HPEA) The HPEA was a not for profit corporation formed as the unifying voice of the employers working at the Bull Arm work site during construction of the Hebron Project. It assisted with the administration of the collective agreement and managing labour relations. With the construction phase of the project completed, the HPEA has concluded its affairs and dissolved the entity.