Message from Dan Patterson: Strategic Planning underway, Board approves balanced budget for 2016-2017

Dan PattersonI would like to thank everyone who participated in the Day of Reflection, held earlier this month at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus.

As Steve Hudson and Pam Skinner noted in their follow-up, the event was an excellent start to an important, college-wide discussion of a long-term vision for Niagara College, as we face the challenges and opportunities of a transformational time in postsecondary education. The feedback and ideas generated at Day of Reflection were outstanding and will serve us well as we move forward on this important initiative. Thank you to Julie Stitt and her team in the Centre for Professional and Organizational Development (CPOD), as well as the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and Working Group for making Day of Reflection such a success.

Strong strategic planning has served Niagara College well in the past, and has helped us to grow and succeed in an evolving postsecondary landscape. I encourage you to take advantage of opportunities to be involved and engaged in our strategic planning process. You can learn more online on the strategic planning website.

As our 2013-2016 Strategic Plan comes to a close, our Board of Governors has approved a balanced budget for 2016-2017 that supports the final year of our current strategic plan, while providing a solid financial foundation for the development of a new long-term vision.

The budget was balanced through the effective strategies of containing and reducing costs and diversifying our revenue sources while prioritizing our resources to support our ongoing operations and strategic priorities. Specific objectives outlined in the budget include international growth and identifying new revenue sources; revamping service delivery models to enhance student retention and success; and the development of strategies to mitigate domestic enrolment challenges, including expanded marketing and recruitment activities, new and enhanced partnerships with school boards, new programs and improved pathways and partnerships.

Highlights of the budget include:

  • A balance between revenues and expenditures of $157 million;
  • A 2.1 per cent decline in domestic enrolment  and a 9.5 percent increase in international enrolment that, when combined, will maintain current enrolment levels;
  • Support for new programs, including: Game Development and Game Design diploma/degree programs in partnership with Brock University (September 2016); Commercial Beekeeping Graduate Certificate (January 2017); Community Integration through Cooperative Education Certificate (January 2017); Artisinal Distilling Graduate Certificate (September 2017); Industrial Automation Graduate Certificate (September 2017).

Achieving a balanced budget amid cost increases, demographic-based challenges in domestic enrolment and constrained government funding is a significant achievement and I extend my sincere thanks to all who contributed to its development.  As these trends become more challenging to manage in the years ahead, we will be doubling our efforts to seek new sources of revenue and look at ways of reducing expenses while maintaining and enhancing the quality of our programs and services. We have a shared responsibility for the financial strength of our college, and these challenges will require all of us to use the resourcefulness, prudent and entrepreneurial thinking and innovation that has served Niagara College so well in the past.

The 2016-2017 Business Plan is available online – I encourage you to review it. Please contact your vice president if you have questions regarding the Business Plan.

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