Yesterday was a great Day of Reflection. The topic of “Great Work – the work that makes a difference” could not have been better timed as we strive to manage the challenges of our daily work so that we have time to focus on the “Great Work” that engages us, makes a difference and drives success at Niagara College. The design for the Day of Reflection allowed us to come together as a learning community and work at finding new insights to managing our work and enhance our support to students.
I do not recall a busier April at Niagara College than this month. I tried to attend as many year-end class events as I could. I am always amazed at the breadth and depth of programs and services that we provide our students at Niagara College – day in and day out. The positive energy at all our campuses has been very palpable and I want to thank everyone for an amazing winter academic term. The many events and honours and accomplishments of our student body are too numerous to mention, but tell a powerful story of the quality and impact of Niagara College.
Next week I’ll be communicating our approved Annual Business Plan for 2015-16 and you’ll see that within our balanced budget, Niagara College continues to achieve its goals of unparalleled student experience, leading innovation and applied research, and operational excellence while moving ahead with exciting new initiatives and partnerships.
As we turn our attention to the spring academic term, and our June Convocation, I want to update you on organizational changes that will take place as a result of the work that has been undertaken over the past year on two critical components of our operation: international and an integrated student service.
Niagara College has developed an exceptional reputation in the field of international recruitment, training and development. Our growth in this area has been a critical source of revenue diversification and has opened up many opportunities for staff and students. Our “Be World Ready” initiative continues to provide NC students with incredible global opportunities never imagined a few years ago. Our student body and classroom dynamics have changed with over 2,000 international students coming to us from more than 70 countries, giving Canadian students the opportunity to develop friendships and to study with fellow students from around the world. Additionally we have opened a campus overseas and are undertaking numerous international consulting contracts. Sean Kennedy has been seconded out of his other duties over the past year to focus on this growth in International.
To continue our tradition of excellence, Niagara College’s organizational structure must adapt to meet these changing needs. Given the significant growth that has occurred in international and is expected to continue, beginning September 1st, 2015, Sean Kennedy will assume a new full time position of Vice President International. During the next four months, Sean will review the appropriate structure to support the growth of the International portfolio’s expanded activities.
Rick Anderson, in his role as Acting Vice President – Student Services, has engaged many of you over the past year in looking at the critical strategy of improving student retention, application conversion and the overall student experience through enhancing student services. That analysis, and Transform NC have highlighted the importance of moving forward with an integrated student services strategy. Our high KPIs in student services and facilities have been a strategic differentiator for us in prior years, and our recent results have been disappointing, illustrating the need for us to focus on these areas.
To sustain and grow synergies between teaching and learning excellence and student support services I have asked Steve Hudson to take on the role of Vice President – Academic and Learner Services when the new structure is launched this fall. This will combine his current role as Vice President – Academic and incorporate the student services area under one portfolio. It is my expectation that we will bring forward changes to our organization to best realign the structure with the work we need to perform given the many changes to our student population and environment.
To assist in bringing this work to conclusion, I have asked David Veres to take an assignment until September 1, 2015 as Acting Associate Vice President – Academic. He will work with Steve Hudson to seek input from the College community, and bring forward recommendations to the Executive Team for an organizational structure for the academic and service areas that will enable NC to provide excellent integrated academic and student services support within our changing context. David’s significant experience within the College, as well as his graduate studies work on leadership and change management, will make him a valuable addition.
I expect analysis to be completed and considered by the Executive Team by August so that we can transition further changes to the structure over the fall. Sean and Rick will continue with their current secondments until that time. Carolyn Triemstra will be appointed as Acting Dean – Health and Community Services while David undertakes this new assignment.
I am very excited about ensuring that we are optimizing our organizational structure to respond to the changing needs of increased international activities, and to enhance academic and student excellence. We have an extraordinarily high performance team with incredible talent that has brought us this far, and will ensure we get this new structure right. I look forward to working out all the details and discussions at meetings that will allow us to implement this structure for the start of the fall semester.