There are lots of things to feel positive about at the College of New Caledonia (CNC), Quesnel council heard last week.
CNC president Henry Reiser and CNC Quesnel Campus operations manager Sonya Spiers were at council Feb. 5 to provide an update to councillors and City staff about what’s going on at the college and the progress being made on CNC’s strategic plan.
CNC’s strategic plan, called Promoting Student Success, was started in 2016.
“This strategic plan is a living document and we are measuring our accomplishments on an annual basis, and every year, we report to the board, and then we like to report to the community as well,” Reiser told council. “The strategic plan is really based on five pillars, if you wish. The first one is student success, and under student success, there are seven action items. I’m happy to report that on all of the action items, we are underway and on schedule.”
Reiser highlighted that CNC’s Digital Delivery Instruction (DDI) initiative has grown a lot in the past four years. CNC has two DDI classrooms here at the Quesnel Campus with the University of Northern B.C., and Reiser says they started with zero courses and course sections in 2015-16, by 2017, they had 31 courses and 42 course sections, and this year, “well over 800” students are involved in DDI learning.
“What this has done is this has enabled us to deliver courses in communities where the courses just simply could not be offered because it was economically not viable,” said Reiser. “It’s been a very positive solution.”
Reiser also provided an update on the college’s educational plan, which was released in 2017-18.
“Really, what this is all about is ensuring that the programming we’re offering is of a high quality,” he said. “The three pillars, if you wish, are quality programs, quality delivery and quality service. And all of our programs are reviewed based on these three pillars of the education plan.”
Reiser told council CNC’s Aboriginal education plan is expected to be released this spring. The consultative process is underway, and the group is following up with people who have participated in that consultative process, he explained.
Spiers shared information about new programming that has been offered at the Quesnel campus the last several months, including the new trails design and maintenance program, which she describes as “very successful.”
“The program was developed with financial support from the Province’s B.C. Rural Dividend Program in consultation with the [Cariboo Regional District], City of Quesnel and Gold Rush Cycling Club,” said Spiers. “The students had the opportunity to learn about sustainable trail design, construction and maintenance, and it was developed to help the region design, build and sustain recreational trails in our area.”
CNC Quesnel has also offered a new B.C. Wildfire Training program for a variety of community organizations, and in December, the campus also ran a Mental Health First Aid program. Seventeen participants from across Quesnel learned how to provide initial help to people who are showing signs of mental health issues or experiencing crisis.
“A couple of our folks internally at CNC went, so it just gives front-line staff some skills until they can get the next level of professional in to help any students who might be in crisis,” said Spiers.
Another new experience this year was a traditional drum-making workshop in December, which was part of CNC honouring the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action, Spiers told council.
“We presented a cultural awareness and inclusive event, which was the drum-making workshop,” she said. “Bernard Chantyman and his wife, Rona Bob, taught students and staff how to make their own drums and drumsticks with wood, leather and cord, and they also performed a very special song for looking ahead, Spiers told council.
CNC Quesnel is hosting a science and technology day Feb. 21, with 50 to 75 grade-school students coming to the campus to present their science fair projects. During the public viewing of the science fair projects in the afternoon, CNC Quesnel will be providing a campus tour and interactive lab activities in the physics and biology lab, and there will be an interactive open house during the day to demonstrate DDI initiatives.
There will also be interactive DDI sessions for the public Feb. 19 at noon and 5:30 p.m.
Coun. Ron Paull wondered if Aboriginal education programs and offerings are on the rise and if student numbers are growing.
Reiser didn’t have the actual numbers with him, but he said the two Aboriginal studies courses are available on DDI.
“As far as Aboriginal numbers are concerned, anecdotally, yes, the numbers are up, and the other part of it is Aboriginal students are more successful in completing [their studies] than they have been in the past,” he said.
Paull also asked if there was a resolution to the pay parking.
“We are in a contract with Impark, and once that contract is completed, we will review whether or not we are going to do that,” said Reiser. “You have to understand that when we brought parking in, we were in deficit. We have not been in deficit for a number of years now. This will be our fourth consecutive year.”
Reiser told council the expansion of the trades wing at the Quesnel Campus should be completed by May, and the first intake will be January.
As well, CNC has a brand-new regional principal in Quesnel, Reiser told council.
“We’re feeling very positive,” said Reiser.
Paull felt very positive as well.
“I have to say, and I think this would be a unanimous statement, we are fortunate to have CNC here, particularly in view of the fact we’ve got the most beautiful and appealing campus, I think, in the whole college system,” he said. “I’m looking forward to exploring new partnerships and opportunities as we move forward.”