Reflections on a transformative past year
This has been a transformative year, for Red Deer College and also for me and my family. As we turn the page on a new decade, I’d like to take this opportunity to pause and share with you some of the things that I’ve enjoyed learning about RDC and central Alberta since I arrived.
The first thing that comes to mind is how welcoming the College and the community have been. I got my first taste of this back in June when I came to RDC for my announcement as the new President. And then I truly appreciated what this means when we moved to Red Deer in late August. There is such a feeling of warmth here, along with a sense of the importance of collaboration, and I greatly appreciate this.
Building on the idea of collaboration, another aspect that is so special about this region is the entrepreneurial spirit that permeates the culture here. It’s a ‘can-do’ attitude that epitomizes the idea of ‘yes, we can.’ Looking back at 2019, this idea was realized to its fullest when athletes, coaches and guests from across the nation were welcomed to the 2019 Canada Winter Games. People from the College and community worked hard, they worked together, and they achieved monumental things.
Looking to the future, this same type of entrepreneurial spirit and the same attitude will be critical to Red Deer University. We will continue to be more creative with what we do and how we do it. We will pursue opportunities to generate more revenue and to become more innovative in our thinking. By becoming more self-reliant and sustainable from a financial perspective, we will ensure that our foundation is solid as we become a polytechnic University.
When it comes to our transition to Red Deer University, there’s another thing I’ve learned about central Albertans: you are passionate people. I am very impressed with how many people are interested in what’s happening and how many people truly care and are invested in the future of this institution.
Now that I’ve been here for a few months, the most common question I’m asked is about the timeline for the transition. Basically, we are hoping for the go-ahead from the Government of Alberta in the spring of 2020, and this would come from an Order in Council. Then, we would officially become Red Deer University and would launch our new brand in September 2020. This would allow us to recruit students for our first Bachelor’s degrees, with an anticipated launch in September 2021. Right now, we have proposals for degrees under consideration with Campus Alberta Quality Council. While the outcome and timing isn’t a foregone conclusion, we are hopeful that things will progress as based on our intended plan, and I look forward to working with the Government on successful transition to Red Deer University.
At the core of all of our planning is our ability to serve students, providing the education and the opportunities to set them up for success. As we undertake this planning, I value the openness of local government partners to work with RDC for the benefit of our learners and community members. By working together, we’re enhancing education and economic development in the region.
Regional opportunities are strengthened through Campus Alberta Central, for example, a partnership between RDC and Olds College that has been flourishing for the past eight years. Through this collaboration, rural learners can get an education in their home communities. This past spring, we committed to this partnership for another five years, demonstrating how this model is beneficial and valuable for people from across the central Alberta.
As we look ahead, RDU will continue to serve even more local, regional and international students. We have begun the work to strengthen international enrolment by launching an international education office, and our target is to have 500 new international students by this September. Part of achieving this involves collaboration with the City of Red Deer as we look at what resources are available across our community to support international students. I appreciate the good discussions we’ve already had in this regard.
In last month’s column, I talked about how essential relationships are, and as I reflect on my first few months here, the idea of relationships again comes to mind. I’m so impressed with the relationships that RDC has with so many people – our students, community members, partners, donors, government and media – just to name a few. This connects with the ‘can-do’ attitude I mentioned earlier, and the idea that we can work together to make things better for everyone.
This resonates for me on a personal level, as well. It was a big transition for me and my wife, Joanne, to move to Red Deer, but our quality of life is substantially better here than in Vancouver. Thank you to everyone for welcoming us into this community. As we begin 2020, I look forward to continuing to work with people from across the region and seeing what we can do together.
This column was first published in Red Deer Advocate on December 31, 2019.