Meet one of NC’s newest imports, Vivian Kinnaird.
Kinnaird relocated from her home in England to Niagara in 2011 and took the helm as NC’s dean of Business, Hospitality and Tourism department as a newcomer to Niagara, with her fresh perspective as a ‘citizen of the world’ in tow. Her arrival at NC marked her return to Canadian soil after 20 years in the United Kingdom where she was dean, Faculty of Business and Law for the University of Sunderland. Her work there opened doors for her to travel extensively to develop educational partnerships across the globe.
Kinnaird departed for England soon after completing her Master’s degree in Geography at the University of Waterloo. Over the years, she has transitioned from student, to professor, to administrator. She has co-written two books during her early years in the U.K. focusing on global development, and gender and tourism and has co-authored chapters on tourism, ecotourism, tourism recreation research, and town and country planning.
While it may seem that moving into the school of business from geography was a shift in focus for Kinnaird, she notes that business has always played a major role in what she did. Subjects such as economic development, global development, and tourism and tourism development always seeped into the courses she taught, the books she wrote or the research she conducted.
She enjoyed her transition from teaching to administration in 2001 for the same reason she finds her job rewarding today.
“Once I got into administration I found that I really enjoyed working with people to create a more dynamic and exciting learning environment for students,” she says. “I still enjoy working at creating courses, partnerships, working internationally and thinking about education in business and exploring opportunities to build partnerships and deliver programs in different ways.”
Returning to Canada
While she enjoyed her time in England, Kinnaird had always been interested in returning to Ontario and closer to her roots, since she was born in Hamilton and raised north of Toronto. As her children grew into teens, she felt a desire to expose them to life in Canada and open them up to a new international experience.
She was attracted by the job at NC, and was also drawn by the people she met and the College’s location. While she had previously worked in a university environment, she notes that its environment was similar to NC – devoted to its region, to lifelong learning and work-focused programs.
Although she comes to Niagara during what many view as challenging economic times, Kinnard believes the possibilities outweigh the challenges. She views the current economic climate is a business opportunity to consider the future of the Niagara region, the direction it is heading, and its goals.
“We can all be a part of that here at the College and that’s quite exciting,” she says. “It’s a chance for us to work with employers in very specific ways to make sure our programming is relevant to the economy’s needs.”
Life at NC
So far she is enjoying her new role at NC, which is to provide academic leadership on programming, and to maintain and develop relationships within the College. These relationships, she says, are critical to enhancing the student experience.
“A student comes to the college to study a program but there are so many touch points the program will have across the entire College,” she says. “We need to work together to ensure the student experience is as consistent as it can be, and that the students have the best information and opportunities.”
Kinnaird believes the college’s strength lies in its strong commitment to students and providing them with opportunities outside of their program. She also applauds the College’s success in working internationally with a business global development focus. She believes NC’s Business program is distinct within the province, particularly in how well it engages students with potential employers at such an early stage, providing them with numerous networking opportunities with external sectors.
“Not every student takes advantage of it, but the ones that do, do incredibly well,” she says.
Now that she is part of the NC faculty, she looks forward to helping students achieve and meeting the needs of business, industry and the community for years to come. This is a task she believes the College is ideally positioned to achieve. Not only is NC located in the heart of the Niagara region’s Tourism and Hospitality industries but as home of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute – with its own Teaching Winery, Teaching Brewery and respected culinary program on campus – opportunities that open doors for students are on their doorstep.
“It’s wonderful to be at a College where we have all of this to work with,” she says.