Message from Dan Patterson: Strategic Mandate Agreement builds on NC’s strengths

Dan PattersonAs I mentioned at Niagara Day, Niagara College has signed a three-year Strategic Mandate Agreement (SMA) with the province that outlines how we will support their differentiation strategy. The agreement highlights our key strengths and three key priority objectives that build on our areas of specialization and expertise.

Under the three-year agreement, Niagara College’s objectives are to:

  • Expand programs and applied research within the Canadian Food and Wine Institute (CFWI) to position Niagara College as Canada’s premier college for culinary, food and fermentation sciences;
  • Support the rebuilding of the Niagara region’s advanced manufacturing sector through new and enhanced programs and applied research initiatives, and;
  • Expand our cluster of programs that support employers and access to regionally-based students.

The focus of the SMA was to show connections between institutional goals and the provincial government’s Differentiation Policy Framework for Postsecondary Education, which seeks to transform postsecondary education in Ontario by focusing and building on the individual strengths of the province’s colleges and universities. For Niagara College, the SMA builds on our 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, into which many of you provided input during development.

Niagara College’s prepared a submission to the minister of training, colleges and universities, which set out our key priority objectives along with goals and objectives for the next three years. This 10 page document was a distillation of our strategic plan set against the provincial objectives. The submission identifies the college’s current strengths as well as its vision, mission and mandate and outlines our history of supporting the unique needs of Niagara’s economy by being entrepreneurial and innovative in our thinking, forging strong industry links, and offering responsive academic programs that support key industries in Niagara.

The key priorities outlined in our submission include:

  • Expanding the CFWI through new programs and increased enrolment,
  • Maintaining a leadership role in experiential learning for all students through expanded “Learning Enterprises”;
  • Developing the CFWI Research Centre;
  • Enhancing access to CFWI programs through e-learning resources;
  • Expanding and enhancing support for the manufacturing  and materials sector through three-year degrees;
  • Expanding the student experience through further infusion of applied research, including course-based research, in to all advanced manufacturing technology programs;
  • Expanding support for regional advanced manufacturing through the Industry Innovation Centre at Niagara College;
  • Expanding program offerings related to hospitality and tourism, including new three-year degrees, honours degrees and articulated pathways;
  • Providing a range of business programs to support Niagara as a gateway for Ontario;
  • Support community health and wellness by providing skilled graduates that support the evolving community based services and programs associated with strong population; and
  • Support access to post-secondary programs for non- traditional students, including the use of on-line and blended delivery methods for programs

The submissions were reviewed by the ministry and final agreements were negotiated. These agreements were developed to include the major differential goals and priorities from both the government’s and the institution’s perspectives. The outcomes in the agreements will be measured against a series of institutional and system-wide metrics that reflect the priorities set out. The final agreement is available here.

The agreement will play a role in guiding us toward continuous improvement, and ensuring that we continue to provide a high quality, innovation-rich, educational environment that is linked to our regional economy and our communities, ensuring that our graduates are world and work ready. I encourage you to review both our submission and the final agreement.

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