April 24th, 2019

It was a year of growth at Lethbridge College

By Lethbridge Herald on December 30, 2018.

Herald photo by Ian Martens Lethbridge College president Paula Burns has seen a year of building community partnerships, increased enrollment and student success. @IMartensHerald

Amanda Michalezki
Lethbridge Herald
It has been an outstanding year for Lethbridge College in 2018, says their president.
They have done numerous things that contributed to the college’s culture and sustainability, and solidified their community partnerships. With enrolment up nearly six per cent, some of that amount is due to international growth — seeing an increase in students from both India and Kenya.
“This year in particular has been a focus for attracting more students, and retaining as many students as possible,” said Paula Burns, President and CEO of Lethbridge College.
Student success has always been their goal, to make sure they grow their institution and make it sustainable while creating new programs to meet students’ needs.
A significant gift of $100,000 was given to the Kodiaks Athletics department by Flora Matteotti on behalf of her late-husband Val. It was meant to support and recruit top student athletes which is a huge boost for their athletics program.
New programs in the area of virtual reality, and in augmented reality, will be very popular going forward, said Burns. Another area is in animation technology. It looks at how they use almost game-like animation in a lot of ways to create architecture where designers can see how their projects come to life before even constructing it.
The college also hosted their first Merging Realities conference which was the world’s first Virtual Reality conference held entirely in VR.
A new brand campaign was created that took roughly a year to make it through consultation within the college and community. Designers, marketers, and writers did most of the work in-house to come up with the new slogan: ‘Be Ready’ Because ‘What happens next matters most’.
The college’s goal with the new slogan was to educate students for the future, and to equip them for jobs.
“Every step that you take, and what you do next, really matters, especially when you think about how things are changing so quickly in the future,” said Burns. “We just want to make sure that students are ready, and able to face all of those challenges.”
With marijuana being legalized this year, the college decided it was best for them to ban it from campus altogether, and felt it was the healthiest and wisest choice for them to make.
“Particularly with a number of program areas that we have in the trades, and other technology programs where they’re operating sensitive equipment. They would not just be putting themselves at risk but could be for others as well,” said Burns.
Regarding the drug crisis, from the college’s perspective, they haven’t seen a major impact, Burns said. Since the college is part of a coalition group with the City of Lethbridge, they have partnered together to find ways to help and assist where they can.
The Agriculture Enterprise Management program was a new program this fall, and is part of the Cor Van Raay Collaborative Agriculture Program. One goal of that program was to create a new diploma program and Enterprise Management where students have the opportunity to finish out a degree at the university in the same area.
For the 2019 provincial election, the college is preparing to make sure they have access for students to programs that matter most, ones they know employers will be looking for people to work in those areas.
“We’re also wanting to make sure that education is affordable, that students can actually afford to come here whether that’s through grants and bursaries that we’re able to offer,” said Burns.
They want all levels of government to understand how much applied research and innovation they do, with how much they contribute to the economy with their programs and research.
“This year, we’ve really stepped up the game, and hired an associate Vice President of Research, Kenny Corscadden,” said Burns. “He is also the Dean of the Centre of Technology, Environment and Design. He has worked with people and grown the opportunities with some of our faculty being able to get grants.”
The college received its very first institutional grant funding, from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Over the past three years, the college was one of 10 colleges in Canada to get this grant.
The SSHRC grant will provide $45,000 over three years to support small-scale research and related activities at the college.
Throughout this year, the college continued to focus on Indigenous relations on campus. Burns also received her Blackfoot name by Elder Peter Weasel Moccasin.
The Pride Lounge was opened this year as the LGBTQ+ Students Association group brought the idea forward. The student-led project was focused on inclusion, diverse education, and being welcoming to all people.
The Leo Club is a group of students from the Justice program that comes together to do community service, and has been operating for 50 years. They have contributed roughly $8,000 this year to community organizations.
“We know that we’re making community connections, and that we’re continuing to develop partnerships within the community that support our student learning,” said Burns.
Another community partnership with the college that finished this year, was the Ashcroft Home Builders Design Challenge. Students from the Interior Design Technology program designed homes in the competition, and two winners were announced. Their home designs were built and sold with the proceeds going back to the college.
The College Home Partnership also wrapped up with the sale of their final home. The college was given $804,343 over the last five years for the sales of the eight homes that were built and sold.
“Our student success is not just in the classroom but in the kinds of things that they do even within the community,” said Burns.
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