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College boasts of successful year

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Confederation College president Jim Madder shared the “Report to the Community” during a luncheon for stakeholders Monday at the Copper River Inn here, indicating 2016 was a successful year for the regional post-secondary institute.

Coming to the end of the 2013-16 strategic plan, Madder noted the focus over the last three years has been access and success of learners, aboriginal learning, and serving Northwestern Ontario.

“Many colleges have closed their small campuses but we’ve made a point of not doing that—of physically being all throughout Northwestern Ontario,” he stressed.

“And that’s driven a whole bunch of our programing, too.”

Madder said Confederation College served more than 7,600 students this past year, with 44 percent of those being male and 56 percent female.

“4,400 in our secondary programs—that’s one-year certificates, two-year diplomas, which the vast majority of our students take, and three-year advanced diplomas, as well,” he noted.

In addition to that, Madder said they host programs from other institutions, such as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay.

“Sometimes it’s a lot faster for us to go to that other institution and ask them to partner with us, and deliver it at this location, rather than us developing that program,” he remarked.

“If the program is going to be a long-term program, then we’ll develop it ourselves.”

Madder added Confederation College also saw 532 international students attend this past year.

“We’ll keep growing that,” he vowed. “We’ve grown almost 100 international students per year for the last five years.

“I’ve been here five years and we started with 30 international students,” Madder recalled.

“There’s no way it will continue to grow at that rate, though,” he admitted. “We just don’t have that many empty seats in existing programs.”

Madder said the number of students in the School College Work Initiative (SCWI) also has been growing—from 910 students in 2013, to 982 students in 2014, and then 1,095 in 2015.

He explained these are students who are enrolled in high school while taking a course at Confederation College.

“They’re getting credits to complete high school and at the same time getting credits from us,” Madder said.

“I’m incredibly proud of that.”

In terms of aboriginal learning, Madder said there were more than 1,295 aboriginal learners at the college this past year.

“And that continues to grow,” he enthused. “We have the highest percentage of indigenous learners in the province as a college.

“Our official numbers say that we are around 26 percent in post-secondary,” Madder noted. “In reality, I know it is some number above 26 percent because not everyone declares.

“And if you include all of the contract training, it’s more than half our students.”

Madder added all of the college’s programs now have indigenous learning outcomes.

“So if you are studying health or business, you’re going to understand some of the context of indigenous learners within that type of work,” he explained.

Meanwhile, Confederation College continues to grow its programming, said Madder.

“It’s called the Northern Collaboration Business Programming,” he remarked. “We will start next fall delivering programming as one of five English-speaking Northern Ontario colleges.

“And here you’ll be able to go through all three years of

business programming,” he noted.

“Historically, it’s only been two and it’s only been select business programs, but working with other colleges across Northern Ontario, we’ll be able to deliver our business programming right through Year 3.”

Madder said the Wellness Centre also will be opening in Thunder Bay in 2017.

“We’re delivering about $400 million worth of added value to Northwestern Ontario,” he stressed, with the report adding more than 84 percent of students found employment within six months of graduation.

Madder also shared the college’s 2017-20 strategic plan—“The Path to 2020 Wiicitaakewin” (an Anishinaabe word that describes the process of helping or assisting others).

“The previous plan has worked well for us,” he reasoned. “We didn’t throw out everything we’ve been working on, but we’ve built on it.

“This is where we are going,” he noted. “We have three major parts of our plan: access and success, community prosperity, and institutional excellence.”

The three pillars encompass 10 goals, which include:

Access and Success

  • Provides access to a broad range of programs, pathways and learning opportunities.
  • Cultivates a flexible and supportive learning environment that helps learners meet and achieve their career and life goals.
  • Builds relationships through reconciliation that inform learners’ success.
  • Fosters an environment for all learners to experience the Negahneewin Council Vision.

Community Prosperity

  • Is responsive to the training and development needs of communities and employers.
  • Enriches the quality of life, prosperity and sustainability of its diverse communities.
  • Leads and supports innovation and entrepreneurship through partnerships with business and industry.

Institutional Excellence

  • Manages its human, financial, and physical resources responsibly and sustainably in order to exceed college and sector indicators of quality and success.
  • Is an employer of choice.
  • Is recognized as a leader in indigenous learning in Canada.

Madder noted what’s not included this time is aboriginal learning.

“This was an interesting discussion by the board,” he remarked. “Are we mature enough not to have to say that? Is it built into who we are well enough?

“And the answer is, from the Board of Governors, absolutely,” he said. “It is built into who we are.”

Madder added there are many references to indigenous learning throughout the new strategic plan.

He said he’ll return to provide an update on how the new strategic plan is moving forward.

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