Thursday, October 19, 2017

City Council offers support for NWCC name change; along with a bit of advice

A delegation from Northwest Community college provided
an update at Monday's Council session, providing some background
on the college's plans, while seeking support for their
proposed name change

City Council members explored a range of themes and offered up some local advice on post-secondary education on Monday evening, as Council received a delegation from Northwest Community college which provided an update on their vision and strategic planning as well as their work towards introducing a new name for the educational institution.

Sarah Zimmerman, the Director of Communications and Public Relations at NWCC took the lead for the group, which also included Herb Pond from the College Board of Directors and Pouan Mahboubi the Dean of instruction at the Prince Rupert campus.

Her fifteen minute overview, which consisted of a slide show presentation, provided some background to recent planning at the college and how they have addressed some of the economic challenges and to address their enrolment decline.

Among her notes was a review of how the college is looking to increase the number of international students in the region, with Prince Rupert's campus set to receive a number of students in the fall as part of those programs.

The main focus for her presentation was to offer up a review and a bit of a timeline towards the name change initiative and how the college believes it will assist their efforts in attracting new students to the Northwest campuses.

Ms. Zimmerman also observed that the college is seeking letters of support from around the Northwest to support the college's name change initiative, noting that they have received letters from the City of Terrace and a number of School District's in the region.

Council members voted Monday to approve
 a letter of support for the quest by NWCC to change
its name to Coast Mountain College
Following her review Council members offered up a number of comments over an additional fifteen minutes and asked questions related to the name change theme, with many expressing their support for the project.

Councillor Mirau offered up his strong support for the name change initiative and how he would be urging council to write the letter of support and highlighted his support for the college's desire to develop their vision towards "experiential place based learning"

He further added that the name change would also serve as a tool to make the region a destination for international students to come and study and help to boost enrolment.

He had one question, noting that he had heard through the grapevine that the local School District (SD52) had not supported the name change, asking if they had received the same presentation as the one council had just hosted, and how he was at a loss as to why they are opposed to the name change.

Ms. Zimmerman observed that while she had offered to make a presentation to the School District they had chosen to not take her up on that offer and instead based their decision on the news release that had been forwarded to them.

She further outlined that she did not know the nature of their opposition to the name change initiative but would be willing to meet with them if they wish.

The NWCC communications officer might have asked for access to Mr. Mirau's "grapevine" perhaps found here(?) where some background on the SD52 decision not to support the name change proposal might be found.

Other Council members spoke to the theme of the name change and issues related to the college's programs in Prince Rupert.

Councillor Gurvinder Randhawa, expressed his support for the name change, but offered up a cautionary note when it comes to attracting international students and how there should be a preference for local students when it comes to enrolment.

Councillor Cunningham also offered up his full support for the name change initiative and was pleased to hear of the upcoming project to bring some of those international students to Prince Rupert, noting of his concern of the lack of courses that NWCC makes available in Prince Rupert.

Councillor Niesh recounted a dinner conversation with Herb Pond  at a recent event and how Mr. Pond provided further background from the Board's point of view on how the proposed name change will assist the college in its plans for the region.

Councillor Thorkelson conceded to the consensus that it's probably a good thing that the college changes its name, but did offer up some concerns about the level of course content available in Prince Rupert and recounted for the delegation the mandate for the college when it was established.

From those early days, she highlighted the three pillars of labour, aboriginal and academic that made for that foundation to build the college, observing that those pillars had been dropped sometime in the 1980's.

She expressed a cautionary note that in their ambition to attract international students that the college not lose the flavour of the area and using the college's vision statement of experiential place based learning, observing how the college should continue to reflect the unique nature of the Northwest and not reduce the trades programs and other courses that reflect the interests of the region.

For his part Mayor Brain also offered his support to the name change and outlined how he has benefited from experiential learning himself and how he believes its the right strategy for the college to pursue.

He also called attention to some of the conversations that he had at the recent UBCM conference and the perception for many in the region (perhaps through the same grapevine that Mr. Mirau relies on) that NWCC is very much a Terrace college and that there is a consolidation taking place in Terrace, particularly after the closing of the Houston campus.

The Mayor also observed that the perception for many, whether right or wrong, is that there is a plan to make Terrace the benefactor of all the provincial funding and that the outlying areas are left with crumbs.

To further his themes, Mayor Brain offered up his message to the college that as part of any re-branding initiative that they should recommit to the communities in the area and strengthen the student associations in those communities.

Ms. Zimmerman noted that she would be bringing the Council's comments back to the college for further review.

A more expansive review of the NWCC presentation can be reviewed on our Council Timeline feature.

You can review the full presentation to Council from the City's Video Archive of the Monday night session, which starts in the opening minutes of the Council Meeting.

To bring the agenda item to a conclusion, the Mayor called for a friendly motion to offer support for the name change, with Councillor Randhawa noting that they should include an element to encourage that  preference should be given for local students.

Council then voted to approve the request to provide a letter of support.

For more items related to Northwest Community College and other education opportunities in the community see our archive page here.

Further background on civic issues and notes can be examined on our Council Discussion archive.

No comments:

Post a Comment