What's New at BC Colleges: February 3, 2011

Message from Jim Reed - President, BC Colleges

As we head into February there are lots of exciting things happening in our province. In a few weeks time the BC Liberal party will select a new leader and Premier of our province and a new provincial budget will be tabled. We feel this is an opportune time to ignite the conversation about the importance of committing to a bold plan for post-secondary education in British Columbia. It is predicted that 600,000 college graduates will be required within the next ten years to take on the new jobs being created in the knowledge-based economy.  That, plus the tsunami of baby-boomers set to retire, will result in a massive skills shortage if we do not act now. Public investment in education and training is key to preparing a skilled workforce and driving regional economic development. We challenge the new leaders of our province to make post-secondary education a priority on their agendas.

In the coming weeks we will be engaging with our leaders in this conversation. If you’re on Twitter you can be part of the conversation or follow us  @BCColleges.

Read on to discover what's happening at our 11 member colleges.  As always, I welcome your feedback. You can reach me by e-mail at

Jim Reed
President, BC Colleges
Enrolments Up at NIC
North Island College Media Release, January 31, 2011

North Island College’s Board of Governors met on Wednesday, January 26th, at which time members were presented with the college’s stable enrolment report for Fall and Winter 2010/2011. The Board was informed that registrations had increased 5% (or 477 registrations) over the same period last year. The strongest growth occurred in Business and University Transfer Arts and Sciences with an increase of 702 registrations year-over-year (or 10%). As Lisa Domae, Vice President, Student and Educational Services and Planning explained, “It appears that much of this growth is attributable to an increase in local High School students transitioning directly to North Island College.” There was some decline in demand for trades and apprenticeship programs which typically mirrors current economic conditions. There was also a slight drop in adult upgrading enrolments, while health and human services programming remained essentially the same as in the prior year. Read more.

College facing $1.8 million budget shortfall in 2011/12
College of New Caledonia Media Release, January 28, 2011

The College of New Caledonia is facing a projected budget shortfall of approximately $1.85 million next year, board members heard during their meeting on Friday in Prince George. According to a budget assumption report from CNC’s vice-president of finance, expenses continue to climb at the college, while funding from the province is not expected to increase in 2011/12. “While it is still early in the budget development process, and there are many details to be evaluated and finalized over the next few months, the current draft budget would result in an operating fund deficit of approximately $1.8 million -- if nothing were changed,” Penny Fahlman told the board. “Like every year, the college will experience a variety of unavoidable higher costs and spending pressures including: administrative and faculty employee salary step increments; utility cost escalations; health and pension cost increases; new and higher software licensing and maintenance fees; as well as the annualized cost of new initiatives begun part way through the previous fiscal year”. Read more.

Women in Trades program breathes fresh air into career aspirations
Okanagan College Media Release, January 26, 2011

Remodelling a bathroom or putting down laminate flooring might be a weekend pastime for some women, but it could also be a sign of a new career. That’s exactly what led two Okanagan women to sign up for Okanagan College’s Gateway to the Building Trades for Women Program – a 12-week course that introduces women to a wide range of trades from carpentry and joinery, to plumbing, electrical, drywall, roofing and even automotive service. “I had done a lot of home renovations – put in a couple of laminate floors and hardwood floors and I like carpentry work,” said Summerland resident Kim Small, who entered the program in 2009. “I felt like I had won the lottery. I just loved it. It was especially great that they didn’t hold age against me,” she said, admitting she belongs to the over 50 set. “I learned skills in electrical, carpentry, roofing – I absolutely hated welding, but there were other women who loved it, and at the end of three months I got to pick a trade and decided to take the RV Service Technician program.” Read more.

Langara's an Energy Champion
Langara Media Release, January 25, 2011

Langara was recognized as a 2009 Gold Champion Level Reporter by the CSA Climate Change, GHG Registries with a total score of 92/100 points. Since beginning the GHG Registry challenge in 2001, Langara has consistently achieved gold level status in all of its submissions. The title recognizes the highest level of achievement in our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  "We are pleased to achieve the Gold Champion level status once again from the GHG Registries. It acknowledges success in our environmental initiatives. Langara has a commitment to reducing our green house gas emissions and we look forward to challenging the GHG Registries each year," says Jay Strachan, Director, Facilities & Purchasing. Read more.

New opportunity for Heavy Duty Equipment Technicians to receive Red Seal certification
Northern Lights College Media Release, January 24, 2011

Red Seal certification is the gold standard for trades people, an indication of skill by hiring employers, and the accepted credential across Canada. But until now, the only way for skilled trades people to receive the Red Seal was to prove the time they have worked in the trade and successfully complete a written exam. Now, through an initiative being piloted in Fort St. John and several other locations in British Columbia, there is an alternative – an enhanced assessment that allows heavy duty mechanics to demonstrate their skills and better ensures only competent individuals get certified. The Industry Training Authority and the Transportation Career Development Association (transCDA) are offering assessments at the Fort St. John Campus of Northern Lights College in March. Challengers will have the opportunity to gain certification through a variety of practical assessments of their skills and knowledge. Read more.

Nazanin Afshin-Jam presents at upcoming Mir lecture
Selkirk College Media release, January 24, 2011

Nazanin Afshin-Jam is a human rights activist, President and co-founder of Stop Child Executions, former Miss World Canada and Miss World first runner-up and the upcoming speaker for Selkirk College’s Mir Centre for Peace Winter Lecture Series. She will be speaking passionately about the rights of women and children in her native Iran, particularly regarding the issue of capital punishment and minors. “Nazanin has an unbelievable amount of knowledge, experience and zeal,” says Mir Centre for Peace Chair Randy Janzen.”It’s contagious and hard not to get caught up in the causes she so strongly advocates for. This presentation is bound to be one that the citizens of our community will not easily forget.” Read more.

Eric Sehn headed to Camosun College
Northern Lights Media Release, January 24, 2011

Eric Sehn has held five different positions and worked at several campuses during his almost 13-year tenure at Northern Lights College. But after more than a decade at NLC, Sehn, who is Dean of Instruction (Academic and Career Programs), will be leaving the College at the end of January to take over as Dean of the School of Trades and Technology at Camosun College in Victoria. Sehn started his career at NLC in 1998, as the Continuing Education Coordinator in Fort Nelson. Two years later, he moved to Fort St. John as the Acting Assistant Principal, before taking on the Campus Principal position in Chetwynd from 2001-04. He has been based at the Fort St. John Campus since 2004, first as Campus Principal, and then as a Dean after the College’s administration structure was changed in 2006. Read more.

Biologist presents groundbreaking theory on psychiatric disorders
Douglas College Media Release, January 24, 2011

An award-winning biologist will present his groundbreaking new theory on psychiatric disorders at Douglas College next week in a free lecture open to the public. Bernard Crespi, a professor of biological sciences from Simon Fraser University, will describe his idea that there is a shared genetic basis for psychiatric disorders such as autism and psychosis. Where Darwin meets Freud: Psychosis and autism as diametrical disorders of the social brain takes place Feb. 4, 7-8pm, in the Laura C. Muir Performing Arts Theatre at Douglas College. According to the New York Times, the theory "provides psychiatry with perhaps its grandest working theory since Freud." "This work provides a new way to look at these disorders using evolutionary genetic theory," says Rob McGregor, instructor in biology and environmental science at Douglas College. Crespi and research partner Christopher Badc­­ock, a sociologist at the London School of Economics, propose that when a human embryo is produced, an evolutionary tug-of-war takes place between the mother's genes and the father's genes that can influence the balance of the offspring's brain. Read more.

NWCC offers new ESL for Employment course
Northwest Community College Media Release, January 20, 2011

At the end of this month, Northwest Community College (NWCC) will offer a new course at its Terrace campus designed to give ESL learners linguistic and practical skills for gaining employment. ESL for Employment will help students with limited English navigate the Canadian employment system, learn about their community and improve their language skills. Lessons will include various field trips and guest speakers. “Northwest Community College has run a successful ESL program in Prince Rupert for a number of years. At some point, we’d like to replicate that program in Terrace and this course is just one step in that direction,” says Lianne Gagnon, NWCC Dean of Student Services and Instruction. Read more.

Author Angie Abdou to give public reading
College of the Rockies Media Release, January 18, 2011

Angie Abdou is an English and Creative Writing Instructor at College of the Rockies at the Cranbrook Main Campus. She is also a well-known author. Her novel, The Bone Cage, has made it into the top five list of Canada Reads — the Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade. Canada Reads is an annual 'battle of the books' competition organized and broadcast by CBC Radio 1. During Canada Reads, five personalities champion five different books; Abdou's novel is being defended by former hockey enforcer turned social activist Georges Laraque. Read more.

CNC eligible to receive federal funding for applied research
College of New Caledonia Media Release, January 14, 2011

CNC is now eligible to receive federal funding for applied research from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). It means CNC students involved in applied research activities receive new and enhanced opportunities for learning. CNC employees gain enhanced knowledge and experience and work to further the college’s reputation while participating in applied research. “CNC is excited about achieving NSERC approval for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Don Precosky, Dean, School of Academic Studies. “It does enhance our academic credibility and it also makes it easier for us to get funding from other federal funding agencies and from the private sector.”Besides employees and students benefitting, the learning environment at CNC also improves through the enriched opportunities applied research provides. The community gains by the establishment of collaborative, mutually beneficial arrangements and/or partnerships with local business, academic, government, non-government and not- for-profit organizations. Read more.

VCC receives funding for Year of Science initiatives
Vancouver Community College Media Release, January 14, 2011

Vancouver Community College has received funding from the Ministry of Science and Universities to support the college's activities as part of British Columbia's Year of Science.  "We are pleased that this Year of Science funding will allow us to continue our highly successful speaker series, presenting B.C. and international scientists who have impressed audiences with the wonder, awe and discovery of science," VCC president Kathy Kinloch says in the ministry's announcement.  "It's exciting to be able to showcase science and scientists through these events -- inspiring British Columbians and helping foster a culture of exploration, research and innovation," she says. Read more.

IHSCAP—helping Aboriginal learners prepare for helping careers
Camosun College Media Release, January 13, 2011

The idea of coming to Camosun can feel a bit overwhelming, especially if you are uncertain about your readiness for college. To help smooth the transition to post-secondary for Aboriginal learners, Camosun developed an innovative program to prepare for rewarding careers in community. The Indigenous Human Services Career Access Program (IHSCAP—pronounced Ice Cap) helps Aboriginal learners by providing effective support services in combination with career exploration and college upgrading, all within an Indigenous cultural context. At the end of the specialized 10-month program, students are familiar with college processes and are confident and ready to enter one of the community services programs offered by the department of Community, Family and Child Studies. Read more.

Haida Gwaii gets new director of education
Northwest Community College Media Release, January 12, 2011

Northwest Community College (NWCC) has hired Dr. Ken Leslie to the position of Director of Education, Haida Gwaii effective Jan. 31. Dr. Leslie comes to NWCC from the Psychology department at the University of Victoria and brings to his new position valuable experience with community outreach and grants. Dr. Leslie is passionate about Haida language revitalization and preservation. He has worked with the Haida in Masset, developing language learning stop motion animated movies to support Haida language learning in that community. His Haidawood blog shows some of the fascinating work that has come out of these projects. “Haida Gwaii is a magical place, the environment is beautiful and amazing,” said Dr. Leslie. “And Haida culture is so rich. The people I’ve worked with there were so open and welcoming.”  Read more.


BC Colleges is a consortium representing BC’s 11 public, community colleges serving almost 200,000 students annually with campuses in close to 70 communities throughout British Columbia. BC’s colleges offer a comprehensive range of programs from university studies and baccalaureate degrees to career, technical and trades education. All of BC’s colleges offer programs that are designed to be accessible, affordable and responsive to the evolving needs of BC communities and industry. For more information, visit our website.