Thursday, February 9, 2017

Northwest Community college has expansion plans and maybe a name change on the horizon for the region

Northwest College is considering expansion plans for Terrace and a name change

Change is apparently in the wind for Northwest Community College, as the new administration of the region's post-secondary educational institution begins to move forward with a new blue print for delivering education in the region.

A number of Terrace media outlets have in recent weeks highlighted some of the plans that college officials have percolating at the moment, with campus expansion and the potential for a branding change for NWCC the two key elements for the most recent push.

Northwest Community College looking at a name change (audio)
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Massive shift of students and services to take place at Northwest Community college in Terrace
NWCC Longhouse controversy (video)

The prospect of change is not a new one for students and staff of the college, or for residents of the Northwest, as the college has seen a number initiatives launched over the recent years coming from the President's office.

New themes and vision plans that were developed with each installation of a new face in the President's office, each bringing their own approach as to how the college should serve the vast territory that it covers extending from Haida Gwaii to the Bulkley Valley.

The newest administrative group joined the Terrace campus in 2014 starting with the hiring of Ken Burt as President and CEO and much as the previous administrations over the years have done, the new group has developed new ideas, along with expressing a new vision for how the college should approach education across the Northwest.

As the President of NWCC explained to radio station CFNR, the quest to explore a re-branding of the college comes as a result of NWCC having outgrown its name.

Towards its plans for a new name the college has engaged the services of a consulting firm to narrow down the potential list to what are now four options, a new identity that the college isn't quite ready to reveal just yet.

Even after they do decide, the actual process of changing the name is one which would require provincial approval and could take up to half a year or more.

As part of his review for CFNR, Mr. Burt also noted that from the feedback that college officials have received from would be domestic and international students, that when it comes those looking to enter post secondary education the terms "community college" and the regional designation of "northwest" are seemingly negative factors.

In recent months NWCC has developed a program called the NWCC International Experience designed to try to attract more international students to the Northwest,  it's an approach which has been a valuable stream of revenue and enrolment for colleges and universities in the province.

The name change focus however, is probably not one that would be on the top of the list of concerns for many parents or students.

Those that pay the tuition and take the courses offered by NWCC, most likely would prefer to see more attention (and financial resources) directed towards having more programs made available  for students who call the Northwest home, with more opportunities for learning to be spread out across the various campus locations.

As for the plans that appear to be in motion towards a change in name for the educational institution, it's somewhat ironic that while they did seek the guidance of a consulting firm to explore the issue, NWCC  an organization which features the word "community" in its name, hasn't to this point that we have seen, consulted the communities that it serves to inquire as to how they may feel about such a proposal.

Beyond changing a name and the need for new signs and business cards that would go with any decision, there is another area where those communities that are outside of the main campus may wish to hear more about what NWCC (or whatever it's successor will be called) might have planned for the future.

Of more concern for the North Coast perhaps could be the ambitious expansion plans for the Terrace location, a faciility which does need a modern overhaul to better serve the programs offered at the main campus.

But as many in the region have seen over the years, a major injection of funding for any facility in Terrace, can sometimes deliver a less than desired impact on communities that are further down the Highway 16 corridor.

So far, outside of the media snippets from Terrace, there has been little made public about many of the plans ahead for the college, with few notes provided through the NWCC website, or assorted social media options.

NWCC Facebook
You Tube

In years past, Prince Rupert City Council has invited the President of NWCC to attend a public council session and outline what vision the college has for this community, as well as to hear feedback and answer questions from Council members.

It proved to be a valuable exercise that served to keep the city's elected officials engaged with the college and allowed for Council members to advocate for improved post secondary education in Prince Rupert.

Earlier this week, City Councillor Barry Cunningham outlined some of his concerns over how an expansion of health services in Terrace could have an impact on Prince Rupert, keeping up on issues related to post secondary education in the community may be a theme that Council may wish to remain vigilant on as well.

With much being made of the need for expanded training opportunities for the North Coast as plans continue to develop for major industrial growth, ensuring that the Prince Rupert campus retains its current level of courses and expands on the opportunities available to local residents should be a focus for City council.

Keeping watch on the topic as well should be a theme for the current MLA Jennifer Rice, as well as BC Liberal candidate Herb Pond (who sits as Chair of the NWCC board) and any other candidate that may enter the race for the North Coast seat in the upcoming Provincial election.

For more items related to Northwest Community College see our archive page here.

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