Heritage Group Meeting of January 21, 2016
Act I: Paul Vogt, President RRC
Paul apologized for not being able to stay for the entire meeting as scheduled due to a conflicting Chamber of Commerce meeting where he was to introduce the keynote speaker from Centre Venture. A wonderful “two-for-one deal for us”, he was quick to point out, since it both provided us a ready-made presentation of RRC’s vision for downtown development, and a follow up with Christine Crowe, Acting VP Academic and Research, who would pick up where he left off.
On the job for 4 months now, Paul’s association with RRC started long before becoming President. His wife is a graduate of our Graphic Design program, and he had spent lots of time with her during their courting days in what’s now called the Buffalo. “It hasn’t changed a whole lot.”
Connected to academe for the last 25 years, Paul has been in and out of the classroom teaching a variety of courses all over town, including political science, economics and philosophy. But he considers his main career to have been in politics, most recently as Clerk of the Executive Council and Secretary to Cabinet for the province of Manitoba, the formal head of the Civil Service. That included eight to nine months working on the new post secondary strategy for Manitoba, the gist of which was greater integration of post secondary education so that students can move more easily from one institution to another.
Following his arrival at RRC , what struck him most during his many tours to meet people and find out more about their departments was how integrated we are with the community, how responsive we are to community needs (our regional centres are a good example), and how in tune we are with changes taking there and in helping students get jobs.
Paul pointed out that the average age of students at RRC is now 26 and that 95% of graduates get jobs in the area they were trained. “This is our calling card. We provide skilled workers for the Manitoba economy.” And there he graciously recognized our (Heritage Group members) life-long commitment and contribution to RRC. “You have more experience in your little finger than I do.”
Our core is skills training. But we need to modernize. And the latest major Notre Dame campus (NDC) project, the Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, reflects that and bodes well for the future.
But RRC is also central to downtown revitalization. The Roblin Centre and the Exchange District Campus (EDC) have injected some 4,000 students and instructors daily into what had previously been a “dead block”, becoming a catalyst for Innovation Alley, numerous restaurants, and tremendous business growth in the area. Paul also shared that RRC is taking steps to try and replicate downtown’s “town square” atmosphere at NDC.
And RRC’s international student population now exceeds 1,000 and continues to grow, giving faculty and our other students a valuable global perspective. Not only happy to study here, many international students want to stay in Manitoba and become a part of our workforce. But the majority take language training at the VIA rail station on Main Street, unconnected to our other EDC services. in the works is another heritage restoration project that would allow us to bring them to EDC, further dominating the area and cementing our role as downtown developers.
In closing, Paul again apologized for cutting his stay short and expressed a desire to spend more time with the Heritage Group sometime in the future.
Act II: Christine Crowe, Acting VP Academic And Research
Announcing herself as “the second act”, Christine began by asking Heritage Group members to introduce themselves and say a bit about their career at RRC. It was most interesting to hear of the breadth of members’ experiences in their various department, positions held, and when they retired. Christine commented we had obviously enjoyed working at RRC and were keen to maintain that connection.
Born in Yorkton Saskatchewan, Christine shared that she’s a “prairie girl” who loves living in Winnipeg and appreciates its values of community and generosity. Beginning with an undergraduate degree in English Literature at UBC, she then spent a year in Japan teaching English. After Queens University and a Masters in English Literature, she moved to Australia for a PhD in English Literature and her dissertation, Giving Pain a Place in the World: Aboriginal Women’s Bodies in Australian Stolen Generation Autobiographical Narratives. Christine next taught in Regina at the Saskatchewan Federated College and at the University of Regina’s Continuing Education before accepting a Dean’s position at Quantlan Polytechnical College. At RRC for the last 3 years, Christine started as the VP Community Development before moving into her current role in April 2014 as Acting VP Academic and Research.
Summary of Christine’s words about RRC:
- 50% of our grads are apprentices now, 1/3 of RRC activity is with the trades, this has grown exponentially over the years
- One thing that has struck her is the passion of the RRC employees, their real caring and attention to providing students with a great education; their focus is the student
- Working on the academic plan and then will start on the strategic plan. She feels the academic plan being done before the strategic plan is an asset
- More than 50 people from the community (major employers, other institutions, CEO’s of business etc.) were invited over the summer to talk about RRC: strengths and weakness. What was discovered was that:
- RRC’s growth has been noticed
- RRC has maintained its reputation despite some bad press
- RRC stands on firm ground with the employers
- RRC has become very bureaucratic since becoming larger, the budget is $180 million dollars. We are not seen as being responsive anymore due to the bureaucracy, have to figure out how to respond quicker
- RRC has to ensure students are well rounded. They hit the ground running once they graduate and are expected to take on leadership and innovation roles earlier. RRC must prepare students to:
- Work with and lead teams
- Work in diverse work places (RRC has developed college wide learning outcomes including intercultural competence and leadership.)
- RRC is thinking too small: we have a national and international reputation and we are not blowing our own horn on this. We have applied Research and cutting edge programming and we need to promote this and increase it.
- RRC can’t do this alone: partnerships are a key aspect of our programming
- Capital equipment and technology is changing so fast and we don’t have the money, so how do we leverage partnerships to get the equipment? We must have access to the latest equipment.
Christine’s session was followed by 5 minutes of questions with some discussion.
Some of the questions asked:
Are there plans for more applied degrees?
Yes. We have to determine niche areas. The province will not consider further degrees without an academic plan, hence the reason that is a priority right now. Province not interested in “isolated” degrees. They must be connected, (e.g. shared, hybrid and joint degrees with other institutions), and provide a path to further education or research.
The Globe and Mail reports a lot on what post-secondary institutions are doing across the country, but nothing on Manitoba.
The college is working on getting national and international attention.
Is there anything on the horizon in regards to a Health Sciences Building which had been in the plans previously?
Province needs to coordinate this and a study is in the works to determine needs. We may be looking at a shared centre for clinical simulation with the U of M and others.
Are we planning to continue growing our international student population, and are we providing adequate supports for the increasing numbers?
Yes, we have identified a number of opportunities in international ed, and part of the discussion around programming includes how we can best support these students. This is a big shift for the institution and being looked at. Our instructors have not felt as prepared as they feel they should be, not only in terms of language, but also with regards to culture and values.
Christine finished by thanking the heritage group members for their energy, support, and contributions to RRC.