By ERIC MCKENZIE
Growing and sustaining the Conestoga College “empire” were important themes at the college council meeting on Jan. 31.
During the meeting John Tibbits, president of Conestoga, highlighted some of the future plans for the college that will service K-W, which, he said, was one of the fastest growing regions in Ontario.
“You can’t just hunker down in a giant mansion, you have to fill the space,” said Tibbits.
A partnership with Wilfrid Laurier, Mohawk College and the City of Brantford will be announced in February concerning future expansions to the business program, he said.
Conestoga is also planning to partner with the University of Guelph to offer a more comprehensive biotech program for prospective students.
Other future endeavours that were mentioned by Tibbits concerned health sciences at Conestoga. They included assistance in building University of Waterloo’s long-term health-care facility by 2014 and the possibility of building a hospice on Doon campus, which would help terminally ill patients receive real-life care from medical students.
Growth and expansion were also discussed at the council meeting through enrolment reports, which showed Conestoga as one of the few colleges in Ontario to have an increase in enrolment in 2011.
One of the key issues raised at the meeting was that Conestoga has become undersized for a community that has grown so fast and that non-recognition from the government may mean that the college will become underfunded.
“This system is in place to protect smaller schools that aren’t growing but Conestoga is not one of them,” said Kevin Mullan, vice-president of corporate services.
To continue the strong enrolment numbers Conestoga council noted the exposure the college has received from the engineering technology degree accreditation and discussed offering future degrees, such as business or accounting degrees.
Council also noted enrolment increased after Conestoga won the engineering competition last year and began running advertisements that featured the winner on billboards and bus stops.
“This was by far the biggest (overall) marketing campaign in Conestoga’s history,” said Alan Vaughn, executive director of registrar services and international services.
Vaughn presented a report to council on enrolment called How to Grow in Times of Fiscal Restraint.
In his report Vaughn mentioned Conestoga’s new strategies for recruitment, which included paint-splash branding, a nicer and more comprehensive confirmation package sent to prospective students and a calling campaign to personalize each student’s invitation to the school.
Other business at the council meeting involved an upcoming announcement from Tibbits regarding the results of an important study about Conestoga graduates’ involvement in the community.
“It will be a big announcement. The scope of the college in this community has really grown. I think a lot of people are going to be surprised,” Tibbits said.
Bob Carley, executive dean of academic administration, told council members about the Conestoga website where all terms and policies are now available and briefly mentioned the new “acceptable use of technology” policy regarding use of Facebook, email and other online content.