Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why Douglas College needs to grow

If you noticed that the summer semester at Douglas seems busier than usual, that’s because it is. Our enrolment numbers show an incredible increase of 10 percent over last year. That’s another record.

I’d like to thank everyone for your hard work in making this possible. I know more students can mean more work and more challenges, but I can assure you that I’m personally committed to making our continued growth sustainable and towards the betterment of our great institution.

With every step we take on our journey, however, it’s important to pause and reflect on our goals and ask ourselves why we are doing what we do. So, why grow? Everyone’s working hard and we’ve made substantial progress towards accomplishing our ambitious strategic plan. Douglas College is now busier than ever before, but to what end?

Those of you who know me well know I’m a numbers person. I’m a firm believer that good data drives good decisions. If you’ve made it out to recent college budget discussions or engagement events, you’ve probably heard me talk about some of the data that is driving our growth.
Simply put, we’re growing because we should be. It’s the right thing for us right now. It’s the right thing for Douglas, our students, our city and our province.

If we look at numbers, it’s clear that not enough British Columbians are getting the post secondary education needed to keep up with the growing number of jobs that require it. Over the coming years this means we could see rising unemployment levels in BC, while at the same time good jobs are going either unfilled or filled by people from out of province. That’s not good for our economy or our standard of living, and it will affect all of us at some level.

That is, unless we do something about it. And this is where Douglas has an important role to play. Arguably, no other institution in BC is better positioned  to expand, grow, educate more students, and  provide the kind of advanced education, training and skills that are needed right now. Our locations in the heart of Metro Vancouver, our open enrolment policy, our mix of programs and our high quality makes us a vital part of the province’s ability to meet coming employment challenges. 

This is why we are expanding our certificate, diploma, degree and post-degree offerings. This is why we engaged in a rebranding initiative and have been promoting ourselves so widely. It’s not just because Douglas is an amazing institution, with the ability to help people grow, change and improve their lives on an individual level. That’s reason enough on its own. But we also have a societal imperative. As a province, we need to be doing more to prevent a future of people without jobs and jobs without people.

Douglas certainly can’t do it alone. Our partner post-secondary institutions naturally have important roles to play. And government support and funding is critical. We have a number of new credentials awaiting provincial approval and we’re doing our best to make that happen. We’re actively looking at partnerships and new funding opportunities to help us on our journey. And when the time is right, we’ll expand our New Westminster campus to serve even more students.

Underlying all of this is the need to stay true to who we are. We are a place of doing and discovery. We focus on the quality of the journey, helping our students find a path that suits them. This core value was at the heart of our development of our Foundation Year program, so students could get a solid grounding in different disciplines, without losing credits. 

Above all we are an applied institution. The DO you see plastered everywhere reminds us of that. We are not UBC on the Fraser and we don’t need to be. We are Douglas College – a vibrant, exciting institution that combines a solid academic foundation with an applied focus.

So why do we grow? We grow because we’re a great choice for so many students. And more and more are finding that out each year. We grow because we have the internal knowledge and capacity to provide more of the kinds of credentials that are needed by students right now. And we grow because it’s the right thing to do.

I thank you all for your part in our continued success. 

- Scott

Monday, March 25, 2013

Douglas College: moving forward to serve the needs of British Columbians

At the President’s Reception on March 14 I spoke to a group of people who have helped build Douglas College into what it is today – our Honorary Fellows, alumni, faculty emeriti, past presidents, and the Alumni and Foundation Boards.

I told them about the significant events and developments at Douglas as we move forward to serving the needs of more and more British Columbians. Here is what I said.

The post-secondary climate in BC: some background

British Columbia and Canada will soon be facing a skilled labour shortage. This is well documented in the BC Skills for Growth strategy, the BC Jobs Plan, Rick Miner’s People Without Jobs, Jobs without People, and most recently, in the Research Universities Council of BC Opportunity Agenda.

We are facing labour shortages in occupations that require post-secondary credentials that range from trades certificates and diplomas to baccalaureate and graduate degrees. In fact, 78 percent of the new jobs in the next 10 years will require post-secondary education. Although skills shortages are expected to be significant in trades, the most acute shortages are projected to be in occupations that require more advanced education.

As this skills shortage approaches, post-secondary transition rates and high school graduation rates are not high enough. The proportion of high school students graduating with an Academic GPA is not much greater than 50 percent. Admissibility to a research university remains low, approximately 34 percent provincially. For those who lack the interest or ability to transition to post-secondary, future employment prospects are increasingly bleak and will remain so unless they obtain further education.

Access to post-secondary education is now about individuals being able to transition back to post-secondary as much as it is about the availability of post-secondary spaces. This problem is particularly acute among historically underserved populations (persons of Aboriginal origins, persons with disabilities, mid-career learners).

The bottom line

The post-secondary system is not graduating enough students to fill the available jobs. Both the Research Universities Council of BC and BC Colleges have called for thousands of new spaces to be opened in B.C. post-secondary education over the next several years. This is to support increasing population, increasing post-secondary transition, and an increasing number of returning (“second career”) students.

With 65 percent of the population of B.C. in the Lower Mainland, and with Douglas College located in the heart of the Lower Mainland, many of these new spaces need to be here.

What is Douglas doing to serve the need?

Douglas is growing to serve the student need. Our five-year strategic plan (2010-2015) calls for a growth of 1,350 FTE over the duration of the plan – a 21 percent increase over the base year.

We were to achieve this with new programs and growth in existing programs.

We were to achieve this along with a robust international education strategy, superior teaching quality, experiential learning, and a commitment to environmental stewardship, social responsibility and fiscal accountability.

We were to achieve this with employee, student, and community engagement.

We were to achieve this as an access-based, learner-pathway institution.

We were to achieve this without new government funding.

So, we added 10 post-degree diplomas for returning students. We doubled spaces in the Sport Science degree and diploma programs. We added an innovative Bachelor of Performing Arts degree, a Music Technology Certificate program, and are awaiting approval of an applied psychology degree. We have expanded opportunities on many fronts.

And the students responded.

We have record numbers of student applications.

We have record numbers of students at our information sessions.

We have record international enrolments – over 1,400 students at present.

Furthermore, Douglas has record enrolments overall and is now looking forward to a potential growth not of 1,350 domestic FTE, but of 1,600, by 2016.

In addition, and significantly, we are supporting more students through the Douglas College Foundation than ever before.

I am proud to say that Douglas College is well on its way to being  the largest and most progressive baccalaureate degree granting College in the province of British Columbia, and that we are doing it it without new government funding.

We can’t stop here

No society or economy has ever advanced based on a less well-educated population. Social change and economic progress depend, in fact, on education. B.C. is not unique. Douglas, as a publicly funded post-secondary education and training institution, needs to continue to advance individuals, facilitate the pursuit of students’ dreams and aspirations, and through this, to advance society.

We need to continue to advance new programs.  And we have several in the works – more degrees, certificates and diplomas in areas of high student and labour market demand. 

We need to continue and expand our support for students.

We need to continue to grow to serve the needs of the people of British Columbia and beyond.

We have the programs, the demand, and the land needed to expand.
And in this, we will continue to need your help and support as members of the community, not only to tell our story, but to take pride in what you have all been a part of – creating your college of doing and discovery, the largest and the best baccalaureate degree granting College in British Columbia.

- Scott

Friday, March 22, 2013

Budget 2013-2014: Continued Growth at Douglas College

I take this opportunity to update the Douglas College community on the implementation of Pathways to Success, the Douglas College 2010-2015 Strategic Plan, and to outline the 2013/14 College budget developed by the Senior Management Team in accordance with the College strategic priorities. Our budget guidelines, which highlight alignment to College strategic priorities, were approved by the College Board in November.  In the development of the budget itself, extensive consultation has occurred with Deans, Directors, the Administrative Group and the College Board.
Since the release of the Douglas College Strategic Plan in June 2010, significant progress has been made across the College toward realization of our ambitious goal of being the largest and most progressive baccalaureate degree granting college in British Columbia. 

Some highlights include:
  • Expansion of academic programs – The addition of ten new Post-Degree Diplomas, two degrees (one pending approval), one new certificate, and the creation of 845 domestic student spaces (FTE)
  • Internationalization – the addition of a new partnership in India and the expansion of the number of international students by 365 FTE or 60%
  • Engagement – the implementation of the Honorary Fellow designation, leadership roundtables, social media for employees (Yammer), President’s Reception, community connections program and annual student engagement awards; structural reforms in Human Resources to facilitate engagement, the development of a Research and Innovation Office and the launch of the  Douglife website.
Budget 2013 continues the implementation of the Strategic Plan and calls for continued growth of the College. When we combine the results of the last three years with the activity planned in Budget 2013, Douglas College will have:
  • Added 1095 new domestic student spaces (FTE)
  • Added scholarship and bursary support for almost 300 additional students
  • Added 116 new jobs (FTE), 92% at the front lines (faculty and staff)
This, of course, comes at a time when many of our colleagues both in BC and in other provinces are facing severe budgetary shortfalls or significant funding cuts from government.  While our grant from government has not gone up, our other revenue sources have increased, which is allowing us to continue to grow.

In particular, Budget 2013 allocates 103 new instructional sections for new programs and expansion of existing programs, increases support for students by doubling the number of President’s Entrance Scholarships and increasing bursaries, facilitates faculty research through an ongoing annual investment of $80,000, pilots an innovative new Student Employment Centre, adds funds to employee development training, and a number of other initiatives.

Consistent with the prior year, the 2013/14 budget was developed within a multi-year budgeting framework.  This framework clearly targets growth in credit enrolments at Douglas College while at the same time recognizing the contributions of the non-credit areas.  As many are aware, Douglas College credit enrolments have been steadily increasing since 2009/10 when credit enrolments at Douglas were at 77% of Ministry expectations (funded credit FTE).  The gap that exists between enrolments and the Ministry target is the result of a number of factors including the program mix at Douglas.  To close the gap and to meet the post-secondary education needs of British Columbians, Douglas continues to add more sections, courses, and programs. As shown below, the current budgeting framework calls for and will fund credit course and program expansion to achieve 96% of Ministry target by 2016. When Training Group and Continuing Education FTE are added to this total, we will be well above 100% of Ministry target.

This targeted strategic growth to 96% translates into an increase of 1600 credit FTE from the 2009/10 level. The growth will be achieved using previously unallocated funds, contributions from Douglas International, The Training Group, CE, and some reallocations. Planned growth (and growth achieved to date) is illustrated in this chart:

Achieving this growth will require new programs aligned to the demographic and demand changes in post-secondary education currently being experienced.  For 2013/14 significant program growth will occur in Sports Science and the university transfer areas as well as in post-degree diplomas.  Several new programs are in development and will be rolled out over the next three years. 
Achieving our targeted growth will also require many new faculty and staff, placing Douglas College in the unique position of growing while many other institutions are facing cutbacks.  In addition, we will continue to promote what and who we are and to promote our programs in an increasingly competitive environment.

Consistent with the Province’s Tuition Limit Policy limiting tuition increases to the rate of inflation, the College is proposing a tuition fee increase of 2%.  For a full-time student this equates to $27 per semester.  The College recognizes the burden tuition places on some of our students and transfers $800,000 annually from tuition revenue to student bursaries to assist those most in need.  Our proposed budget will increase the student aid amount by a further $100,000 for 2013/14 and permanently double the number of President’s Entrance Scholarships.  Additionally, the Douglas College Foundation distributes approximately $400,000 annually in student financial aid.

The budget details that follow further elaborate on these and other budgetary measures planned for the upcoming year.

Your feedback is important and we encourage you to attend one of the two College-wide Budget Forums scheduled for Friday, April 12, 2013.  On that day a forum for students will be held from 1:30-3pm and for employees from 3:30-5pm, both in the New Westminster Campus Boardroom.  These sessions will be video-conferenced to the Coquitlam Campus Boardroom.

- Dr. Scott McAlpine


Proposed Ongoing Budget Additions

The following items are proposed as ongoing additions in the 2013/14 budget:
  • Instruction – 103 sections in both new and existing programs
  • Science and Technology – Administrative Officer and Lab Technician at DLC
  • HSS – support staff increase from p/t to f/t NW
  • HSS and LLPA – support staff increase from p/t to f/t DLC
  • Office of Research and Innovation - $80,000 research support
  • Research Ethics Board – 1 section
  • Counsellor – International student specialty
  • Facilities Services – support staff increase from p/t to f/t NW
  • Student Financial Aid Assistant DLC
  • External Relations/Foundation – Director of Development
  • Human Resources – Client Service Assistant & increased hours for Student Employment Assistant
  • Senior Administration – Administrative Assistant
  • President’s Entrance Scholarships – increase of $100,000
  • Director of Contracts and Legal Services
  • Douglas Professional Development Day – change from alternate year to annual
  • Douglas International – 1 support staff position
  • Essential Skills – pilot project
  • Student Employment  Centre – pilot project

These additions will result in the equivalent of 23 new full-time positions at the College.

Proposed One Time Only Budget Additions

The following items are proposed as one time only operating additions in the 2013/14 budget:
  • Supplies, marketing and library resources for new/expanded programs
  • College Website – review, design and implement - $100,000
  • Learning Commons – NW - $54,000 (year 2)
  • Customer Relationship Management system for student tracking – research and design - $30,000 (software implementation in 14/15 - $150,000)
  • On-line Tutoring Project – 4 sections (year 2)
  • BC Campus multimedia shared service - $30,000 (year 1 of 2)
  • Safety, Security and Risk Management – Emergency Operations Centre training and start-up - $20,000 (year 2) and Threat Assessment training - $16,000
  • Building, Repairs & Maintenance - $100,000 to help offset reduction in annual maintenance funding
  • Internal Audit Services - $80,000
  • Employee Development Training - $60,000
  • Employee Engagement Survey - $35,000
  • Student Bursaries - $100,000
  • Foundation Campaign Readiness - $20,000
  • Development and Support of Online Strategy - $50,000
  • Job Description Review – BCGEU and Administration - $75,000 (year 1 of 2)
  • Video Services - $75,000
  • Urban Ecology – staff increase from p/t to f/t - $30,000 (year 2)
  • U-Pass Transition Programming - $20,000
  • Student Assistants for evening technical support – NW & DLC - $16,000
  • Student Assistants for information sessions – pilot - $5,000
  • Finance auxiliary staffing - $15,000
  • Moving costs – CFCS to DLC - $15,000

The following items are proposed as one time only capital project additions in the 2013/14 budget:
  • Renovations related to CFCS move - DLC - $85,000 (year 2 of 2)
  • Renovations to field bases and faculty offices - NW - $375,000
  • Renovations to create Sports Science multi-purpose rooms - NW - $290,000
  • Creation of faculty hoteling suite – DLC - $50,000
  • Lecture theatres seating replacement – NW - $105,000
  • Laura C. Muir Theatre acoustic treatment - $200,000


Monday, March 18, 2013

Beyond Global Competence: The Transformative Goals of International Education

I recently wrote a blog post for the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE). As you know, international education is a key strategic theme here at Douglas. CBIE has 150 member institutions across Canada, including Douglas, covering the education spectrum from K to 12 through to post-graduate.

Originally published on the CBIE blog March 14, 2013

International education at Canadian colleges and universities is gaining prominence. This prominence follows on what can be seen as a growing trend worldwide to develop global citizenship skills in our students. However, this altruistic value is not always – and is perhaps even seldom – the dominant driving force behind international education, and there is some distance to go for many, but by no means all, post‐secondary institutions in achieving this goal in a meaningful way.

At a macro level, public policy and post-secondary institutions often address the “how” and “what” of international education and we frequently focus our discussions on recruitment, exchanges, and other such matters. With less frequency do we seriously address the question of why we should engage in international education. We need to do exactly that because, if our motivations are not crystal clear, the focus on the how and what are likely to lead us adrift. Indeed, if the why is to achieve global citizenship, then public policy and institutional frameworks need to be seriously examined for their potential to achieve that goal.

For some institutions and from the perspective of public policy, a top driver for growth in international education is economic. International education is seen in terms of net revenues and categorized as an export industry. Taken in isolation, this perspective commodifies international education and risks undermining the credibility of the endeavour itself. This commodification further risks both domestic backlash and a potential colonialist critique – both of which are obviously antithetical to the goal of global citizenship.

The more altruistic view of international education as creating some of the necessary conditions for global citizenship begs the question of what those conditions are and what is meant by global citizenship anyway. Further, even if the term is (however vaguely) understood, the public policy frameworks as well as the institutional means to achieve the goal of creating global citizens are considerably less so.

One approach, and the approach used by Douglas College, is to envision international education in three categories or phases. Briefly, these are the recruitment of inbound students, a focus on outbound opportunities and, thirdly, the full integration and participation of international dimensions across the institution. This third integrative phase of international education offers transformative potential not only for the institution but can be seen, in fact, as contributing toward the goal of global citizenship. The latter phase goes beyond mere global competence, that is beyond the skills to cope, cooperate and compete in an internationalized environment, but to inspire a deep appreciation for and acknowledgement of alternative perspectives, cultures and ways of knowing.

Institutions truly dedicated to developing global citizenship need to take time to define it and then cultivate an approach that builds it, step by step, rather than assuming it will happen because they are facilitating mobility, attracting students from abroad, and engaging in multiple international activities.

- Scott

Friday, November 30, 2012

International Education is critical to Canada’s future

What I told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on behalf of Canadian Bureau for International Education

On November 19 I had the honor to address the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, to champion the need for a stronger commitment to international education at a federal level.

I’d like to share what I said, since the subject is important to everyone at Douglas College, where international education is a key strategic theme and where we have about 1,000 international students this year.

Douglas College President Scott McAlpine CBIE

Making CBIE's presentation to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, in Ottawa on November 19, 2012. (On my right is Karen Cohen, CEO of the Canadian Psychological Association, also presenting to the Committee.)

I spoke to the Committee as a board member of Canadian Bureau for International Education. CBIE has 150 member institutions across Canada, including Douglas, covering the education spectrum from K to 12 through to post-graduate.

Key message to the federal government

The essence of what I told the Committee on behalf of CBIE is this:

Canada is well positioned to take a leadership role in International Education AND this will require a substantial, sustained investment.

That statement is aligned with the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy. That panel, established by the Hon. Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, and the Hon. Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, submitted its final report in August 2012. It urged Canadians to embrace the benefits of international education and it tied those benefits directly to Canada’s prosperity. CBIE supports all of the Panel’s recommendations.

Developing global citizenship

CBIE believes the two-way mobility of students is critical to Canada’s future. We should invest to make Canada more attractive to top talent from abroad. And we should invest to prepare our citizens to succeed in a global society and marketplace. This is about global citizenship and not merely global competence.

So we’re talking about investing in our economy and in our youth, who are the leaders of tomorrow. And we’re talking about developing the labour force that can ensure our country’s prosperity.

Opportunity to capture bigger share of expanding market

Internationally mobile students are already a significant resource for Canada. In 2010, they spent $7.7 billion here, making education services our 11th largest export. Education is our single largest export to China.

In BC, international education is the fourth largest export, and moving quickly to third.

With a 5% share of international students, Canada ranks seventh among destination countries. By way of comparison, Australia, a country in many ways similar to Canada, is in fourth place with a 7% share.

The OECD predicts that the number of international students will grow from 4.1 million in 2010 to 7.2 million in 2025. By moving quickly and boldly, Canada can capture a bigger share of this expanding market.

We also need to invest in order to provide more Canadian students with international opportunities. Today, just 3% of university students and 1.1% of college students participate in exchange programs.

Compare this to Germany, where 33% of university students participate in exchanges.

In October, Australia committed C$38.5 million for its Asia Bound Grant Program, which will help 10,000 students undertake work/study periods in Asian countries.

In 2011, Brazil announced its Science without Borders Program, which aims to send over 100,000 students to study abroad in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics by 2015.

Targets for inbound and outbound students

In terms of targets, I told the Standing Committee on Finance that CBIE supports the recommendations of the Advisory Panel on Canada’s International Education Strategy.

The Panel set a target of doubling the number of international students in Canada by 2022, to 450,000 students. It also recommended creation of an International Mobility Program to serve 50,000 Canadian students by 2022.

And the Panel urged that a more competitive scholarship environment be created to send and receive outbound and inbound students.

CBIE asked the Committee to consider increasing the Federal Government’s investment in international education from $5 million per year to $25 million within the next three years. A significant portion should go toward enhancing our current scholarship offer, and providing more Canadians with opportunities for international experiences.

If you’re interested, the complete notes to my presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance on behalf of CBIE is included with this post.


CBIE Presentation to Standing Committee on Finance Nov 19 2012 Read more...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Open office hours for November

In September I established open office hours as another dialogue opportunity for any College employees or students who would like to talk with me.

I'd like to keep this going. If you've got thoughts, ideas or questions on educational matters to share with me, please drop by.

My open office hours over the next several weeks are:

Mon. Oct. 29, 2-3pm, New West

Thurs. Nov. 1, 9-10am, Coquitlam

Wed. Nov. 14, 3-4pm, New West

Thurs. Nov. 15, 2-3pm, Coquitlam

Tues. Nov. 20, 2:30-3:30pm, New West

Thurs. Nov. 22, 9:30-10:30am, Coquitlam

At New West, my office is in 4900E. At Coquitlam, it is B3035.

The format is relaxed and informal. No need to book an appointment.

I hope to see you then.

--Scott

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Community engagement forum: examples from Envision Financial and Marketing

At the community engagement forum on October 12, two pairs of presenters shared inspiring stories and examples of community engagement.

One pair was Lori Woods and Hope Taylor. In case you couldn't attend the forum, you can find out what they had to say in my earlier post.

The other pair was Susan Byrom and Gail Tibbo, and this is what they told the audience.

Community engagement examples from Susan Byrom

About Susan

As Manager, Corporate Citizenship at First West Credit Union, Susan Byrom provides leadership to Envision Financial and Valley First on community partnerships, sponsorships, donations, employee volunteerism and community outreach. She graduated from SFU, and holds an MBA with a specialization in Nonprofit Organization Management from Trinity Western University. Susan is Chair of the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation’s Credit Union, Insurance and Finance Committee, a Director with the Langley School District Foundation, and an Advisor to the Surrey Rent Bank.
At Envision Financial we’re committed to making a real difference in the lives of our members and in our local communities. That’s why we develop community partnerships with local charitable organizations like the Douglas College Foundation.

In 2005, Envision and Douglas joined together to sponsor the Envision Financial Light the Lake, establishing a $100,000 education endowment. Over the years the partnership has evolved and now, after two years of planning, we’re excited to move onto the next phase of our relationship by creating the Envision Financial Douglas College Community Capacity Building program.

This innovative program matches third and fourth year Douglas College students with a local nonprofit agency to address a critical organizational or developmental need in the local agency. Nonprofit leaders have access to our students' expertise, research and recommendations, while students learn about the social issues in their own community. Good things come from developing stronger relationships with our community!

Community engagement examples from Gail Tibbo

About Gail

C. Gail Tibbo (MBA, CMRP, CMC) is Chair of the Marketing Department, and President of Incisive Marketing Inc., a Canadian strategy and intelligence consultancy. She is the founding Portfolio Chair for Business Intelligence for the Canadian Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, and the co-creator of the Peter Legge International Institute for Sales Excellence. Gail is a marketing strategist, analyst and researcher, author and educator who has empowered many firms to enhance and streamline their marketing capabilities, and guided many students towards a rewarding career in marketing and sales.

As educators of the next generation of marketers, our challenge is to help students transition to the business world. We use service learning throughout our marketing courses because it helps them become business savvy. Our students have done projects and marketing plans for hundreds of commercial and non-profit organizations including radio stations, BBB, banks, and retailers.

For our capstone marketing course, Marketing Practicum, students take on a real project, over four months, using the skills they’ve learned from 10 marketing courses.

Last fall, we saw the opportunity to learn from and partner with Envision Financial, an organization that is focused on community engagement. We assigned three groups of practicum students to work on projects sponsored by Envision: two groups worked for Coquitlam Foundation and one worked for Surrey Food Bank.

For Coquitlam Foundation, one group undertook a market analysis and strategy, and delivered an integrated marketing plan. The second group researched local non-profit organizations and their event plans, in order to create an event database along with an event strategy. They also planned the Foundation’s 20th anniversary gala event.

Surrey Food Bank wanted to create awareness and develop youth volunteer capacity. Our students worked with volunteers to understand their perspectives and motivation, before creating a youth marketing and engagement strategy for the Food Bank, including promotional tools to make it work.

These projects succeeded from many standpoints. Students became personally involved and committed. They attended client meetings, spoke at board meetings and volunteered at events. Their projects culminated in presentation night, where students presented their work to 80 guests, including the presidents of Envision Financial and Douglas College, board members of all involved organizations, mayors and faculty.

This kind of community engagement is a win for all involved. It raises the bar for students, by involving them with real businesses that have real marketing needs. And it reinforces a positive and professional image of Douglas College and its students in the community.

In 2013, we want to involve students from other areas of the College in these projects. By making projects more cross-disciplinary, we’ll add even more value for students and for our community partners.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Community engagement forum: examples from Classroom and Community Support

At the community engagement forum on October 12, two pairs of presenters shared inspiring stories and examples of community engagement.

One pair was Lori Woods and Hope Taylor. In case you couldn't attend the forum, this is what they had to say.

Community engagement examples from Lori Woods

About Lori

It's hard to keep Lori Woods supplied with up-to-date business cards, so active has she been in building programming in the area of Classroom and Community Support. As CCS Coordinator, she was instrumental in launching and coordinating the Disability and Applied Behaviour Analysis as well as the Behaviour Intervention programs. With the recent addition of an employment support specialty in CCS, a decision was made to bring all those programs together in one department called Disability and Community Studies, of which Lori is the co-coordinator. She is also the BC Regional Campus Liaison for the University of Calgary Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation.

Here's what Lori told the group:

I reviewed some of the strong, reciprocal relationships the my colleagues and I have built within communities of practice in many areas related to disability and autism. We have relationships with child centres, schools, community living agencies, employment agencies and government ministries. Those relationships create opportunities for mutually beneficial practicums, service learning projects and committee involvement.

For over a decade now, 15-30 CCS students per year have gone into the community to do service learning projects that fulfill requirements for the diploma program's capstone course. The projects are meaningful for community partners. And they provide important learning opportunities for students, which help them "launch" from school back into the community.

A new partnership with the Ministry of Child and Family Development is a shining example of innovative community outreach that supports people with disabilities in family homes. Through this initiative, Douglas provides online autism training to behaviour interventionists working in rural and remote areas of BC. It's really gratifying to see that six of the thirty students who participated last semester decided to continue pursuing a Behaviour Intervention certificate from Douglas College.

Another noteworthy outreach initiative involves offering schools and agencies the entire CCS curriculum as a set of learning modules. Partners can choose their preferred 12 topics and learning outcomes, and have Douglas College deliver them to their employees, at their place of work, as a 6-credit course. From there, employees can continue their path towards a credential by challenging CCS courses via prior learning assessment. I'm really pleased that several students who have taken advantage of that opportunity, and completed our CCS diploma, have applied to the University of Calgary's Bachelor of Community Rehabilitation.

Service learning project example from Hope Taylor

About Hope

Hope Taylor is the parent of three Douglas College graduates and will soon become an alumna herself when she finishes her practicum for the Classroom and Community Support program. As a pro-active parent of a child with a developmental disability, Hope became deeply involved in the disability field as a volunteer and informal family advocate. That involvement led to work as an employment specialist for people with disabilities, with POLARIS Employment Services Society as well as Back in Motion. Her experience allowed her to gain credit for some of her CCS courses through prior learning assessment. Hope is now a college staff member in Adult Special Education, working as an instructional facilitator in the Transitions program, which is a partnership with School District 43.

Here is what Hope told the group.

I'd like to share the story of the service learning project I did as a CCS student, with British Columbia Association for Community Living (BCACL).

BCACL has several large scrapbooks filled with newspaper clippings dating back to the 1950s. They document the history of the disability movement in BC.

My task was to analyse and index the scrapbooks. It was a huge job, and I only had time to focus on one, a collection of clippings from 1980-81. I created listings of names of people and organizations mentioned in the articles as well a list of the terms used.

Reviewing those news stories was emotionally draining and upsetting. My son, who has a developmental disability, was born in 1983. It was shocking to be reminded just how unenlightened society was at that time.

For example:
  • People were protesting the establishment of group homes in their neighbourhoods, citing a fear for the safety of their children
  • People with cognitive delays were described as mentally ill and violent
  • School boards were refusing to grant access to education
  • Adults were being referred to as “kids”, “childlike” and “patients”
  • The federal government was arguing about whether rights for people with disabilities should be included in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. For example, we’ve established the right to education, and we use more respectful, “people-first” language. But some of our victories, such as the right to self-determination, have to be continually re-won.

Those scrapbooks are a precious resource that must be preserved, studied and reflected upon. My project was only a start, and I'd like to others complete the work of analyzing the collection.

This project meant a great deal to me, as the mother of a son with a disability, as a person working in the field of employment services, and as a student. What I appreciated most was the opportunity to create something valuable for BCACL: a resource to help the disability advocacy movement remember and appreciate its roots, while keeping a firm grasp on its vision for the future.

I think of a quote from Maya Angelou: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.”

This service learning project was a labour of love for me personally and for the folks at BCACL who encouraged and assisted me. It was a small example of community engagement – a reciprocal relationship in which a student, faculty members and a community organization supported, learned from and taught each other.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Community Engagement: highlights from our town hall forum

Close to 50 employees, representing a wide range of faculties and departments, filled the boardroom at Coquitlam Campus on October 12 for a lively discussion about community engagement at Douglas College. Thanks to all those who attended!

The discussion was wonderfully hosted by Associate VP External Relations Hazel Postma, and capably facilitated by Child, Family and Community Studies Associate Dean Gary Tennant.

We also had four excellent presentations that provided inspiring examples of community engagement. I'll tell you more about those presentations in a subsequent blog post.

We asked everyone: What kind of community engagement are you doing, or would you like to do?

And what can the college do to better support you in creating those community connections?

Small group discussions yielded a number of interesting and insightful ideas, observations and questions that were shared into the larger group.

This is a summary of those discussion points as they were received. I invite everyone who attended to add to, amplify or correct this summary, based on your impression of the discussion. And I invite everyone who was unable to attend to read this summary, and then add your own thoughts and observations. Simply leave a comment at the bottom of this blog post. That way, your comment becomes part of the official record of the event.

Community engagement town hall forum — discussion summary

Community engagement is best if it is bi-directional, that is, the community coming to the college, and the college going to the community. Reciprocal trust is valuable!


Ways that the college can get out to the community include lecturing, offering workshops or even courses in the community; college faculty and staff volunteering in the community, joining professional associations, ideally with support from the college in the form of an employee volunteer program.

By delivering classes in the community, we might help create more awareness of our programs and credentials.

How can we open up access to the expertise that exists in our faculty and staff? For example, make our experts more available to the media? Can we create a list of our experts?

How can we better connect with existing community events? For example, for the Terry Fox Run, we could have a Therapeutic Rec team or a Douglas Students' Union team.

To help us build more linkages into the labour market, and to create more opportunities for research, we should ask the community what it wants.


We definitely want to create more experiential learning opportunities for students, and encourage student involvement in different forms of outreach and volunteering.


Could we be doing more to engage with our alumni?


Many times, very small initiatives grow over time into really valuable projects and programs - the relationships take time.


We're actually doing a lot already. Our faculties and departments already have many valuable community connections that could be even more valuable if they were shared more widely. The problem is that the initiatives, knowledge and experience mostly exists at a local level. We don't know what we're already doing! How can we keep each other better informed about what is already happening? We need more cross-faculty communication and collaboration. When that happens, we'll be better able to build on and strengthen community connections and create more ideas for getting students involved in outreach.

Another benefit of more cross-college information sharing would be more effective use of resources. It would be less likely for different areas of the college to unknowingly approach the same community partner, looking for practicum opportunities, etc. We'd be in a better position to find the best potential fit with a given community partner, and identify cross-disciplinary opportunities. And we'd be more consistent in our approach and our message, instead of (sometimes) working at cross-purposes.

What tools or processes could help us capture information and share our knowledge about community connections?


One challenge is that wonderful community engagement initiatives are sometimes created or maintained by one individual. When that individual moves on, often those initiatives fall off. So we could do a better job, and use some help, when it comes to transitioning projects.


It would be good if the college could clarify the "rules of engagement" when we're out in the community, for example with risk management.


Stepping back to look at the bigger picture: what exactly do we mean by "community"? We need a broad definition, keeping in mind that we're teaching probably the first generation of truly global citizens.


If community representatives are looking to establish some kind of connection with the college, it may not be clear where they should go or to whom they should speak. Perhaps the college can establish some kind of community connections space or website so community members can see where to go to connect. This might help us receive requests from the community for research projects.

Final thoughts and next steps

Engagement is a strategic priority for Douglas College, so the discussion around it will continue and include as many perspectives and ideas as possible. Based on that discussion, we'll identify concrete, tangible goals to move us forward.

Community engagement and community connections are already part of what do here. We are, after all, in a very real way, trying to change the world. But community engagement depends on all of us being engaged, which is why in November we'll hold a town hall forum on employee engagement. Watch for details on that coming soon, and please plan to attend.

And of course the reason we exist is to create a highly engaging and stimulating academic environment for students. Despite the fact that today's younger generation is often portrayed as disengaged, I believe the opposite is true. I believe students today want to be engaged. So in November, we’ll also hold a town hall forum on student engagement. Watch for details coming soon and please plan to attend. That event will be preceded and informed by a "dinner with the president" event for students, where we’ll ask students how well we’re doing at supporting their intellectual engagement and at helping them discover and pursue their academic pathway.

Participants at Friday’s community engagement forum suggested that we should ask community members for their thoughts and wishes around engagement with Douglas College. We’re going to do that as well. Events for community members will be held early 2013, one event at each campus.



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Let's talk about community engagement

All employees are invited to participate in a College-wide town hall forum on community engagement on October 12, from 3:30 to 5pm, in the boardroom at the Coquitlam Campus.

At the forum, we'll ask you:

What are your thoughts about community engagement?

How can the College support the great work being done in the community?

Check out the forum details and RSVP here, then mark your calendars and plan to attend. I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas.

Community engagement is so important to Douglas College and to the communities we serve. The community is coming to Douglas College and asking us to pick up a leadership role in moving ideas forward. And we are responding.

For example, yesterday I had lunch with Mitchel Edgar, the Economic Development Manager from the City of New Westminster, and Kirk Moir from In Motion Technology, who is helping New Westminster develop its “intelligent city” strategy. It’s all about using information technology to stimulate the economy and provide citizens with better access to services. We talked about how Douglas College might contribute to that initiative, perhaps through applied research projects.

That intelligent city idea is related to the “New New West” theme of the city's Economic Development office and the New Westminster Chamber of Commerce. I spoke to Chamber members two weeks ago about how Douglas College is playing a key role in the dynamic change and development of New Westminster.

And last week I attended the launch event for the new Peter Legge International Institute for Sales Excellence, which has earned support not only from Canada Wide Media CEO Peter Legge, but from a number of high profile leaders and organizations.

Many other areas of the College are building exciting community connections. We’re engaging with businesses, the not-for-profit sector, governments, and the general population. Increasingly, we’re known for what we do in and with the community.

I’d like to hear from all employees on this, and the town hall forum on October 12 is a great opportunity for you to make your voice heard.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Our top strategic priorities for 2012/2013

Every year since we launched Pathways to Success [PDF], the Douglas College Strategic Plan, with its six major themes, we’ve established a list of the top priority themes for the year.

For the 2012/2013 academic year, the top priorities are:

  • Learner Pathways
  • Superior Teaching Quality
  • Engagement – with students, employees and the wider community.

Examples of initiatives in each of those priority areas are provided on the Vision 2015 website.

In the coming days, I and some of our senior leaders will blog with more specific ideas on where we’re headed in each of those areas.

And this fall we’ll host town hall discussions on student, employee and community engagement. Watch for an invitation to those events soon, and please plan to attend — your input is essential.

Our focused approach to strategic planning is working. A summary of our achievements is provided in our Strategic Plan “mid-term review” [PDF], which was published this summer.

We’ve made huge strides in Learner Pathways.

New survey data shows awareness of and the reputation of Douglas is increasing.

And we’ve definitely turned the corner on enrollment, with a record number of students this fall, up 5.6% year over year. We also have 1,168 international students, an increase of 20% year over year.

Douglas International is one functional unit among several at Douglas that is performing at an extremely high level and is the envy of the PSI sector in BC.

Campus Life, Finance, our Libraries, and Marketing are among our other high performing areas. Their outstanding work inspires us to talk about how we can make EVERY functional unit the envy of BC.

We’ve got some ways to go, but we’re moving forward, and we’re having fun!

I want to thank everyone for their hard work and engagement with our strategic plan and its goals.

If particular, I want to thank everyone in our Child, Family and Community Studies faculty for their tremendous teamwork and cooperation to complete the first phase of the move to Coquitlam.

If you’d like to share your thoughts with me on our strategic direction and related educational matters, drop by during my open office hours tomorrow, Thursday, September 27, from 2-3pm at Coquitlam Campus.