August 8, 2020

By DEVON SMITH

Shameless self-promotion was the theme of March 19’s College Council meeting.

Council members talked about everything from how to hook college applicants, to pizza and a new campus in Brantford.

The campus is to be in collaboration with Wilfrid Laurier University, on their existing site at 73 George St. Conestoga president John Tibbits believes that this is a move in the right direction for the college.

“I never understood why there weren’t closer partnerships between colleges and universities,” he said. “This is a real opportunity for us to work closely with Laurier.”

The executive dean of the School of Business and Hospitality at Conestoga, Gary Hallam, is one of the organizers of the project. He is working to ensure that students from both Conestoga and Laurier feel comfortable in the new campus.

“We’ll be on campus, right in the Laurier buildings, right in the Laurier classrooms,” he said. “But the goal is for the students to be dual students. They’re not going to be Conestoga students sitting in Laurier space. They will have equal use of all the facilities. They’ll have one card. They will be co-branded students.”

The programs offered at the campus will be mainly business-related, initially, but could eventually include health, media and liberal studies.

Brantford is one of the fastest growing cities in Ontario and, according to Tibbits, the people there are quite excited about the new campus. They’re not the only ones who are psyched about the collaboration, however.

“It’s not just a question of adding some programs,” said TIbbits. “That partnership, I think, will raise our profile and raise our brand over time.”

This is good news for Alan Vaughan, the executive director of Registrar Services & International Education, who is in charge of enrolment management strategies for the college.

These strategies are basically the means taken by the college to keep people signing up.

They are important to the growth of the college, Tibbits said.

“The high school population is in decline in general and there’s been a great capacity increase, especially at the universities,” he said. “So students have options, and you have to make sure you let them know that you want them here.”

The number of applications to Conestoga is up 2.1 per cent from last year, compared to the 4.2 per cent overall decline at colleges in Ontario, and Vaughan and his team are working hard to maintain the Conestoga trend.

Some of the ways they are doing this are advertising new programs and new campuses, reminding adult students about enrolment deadlines, hosting open houses and doing phone campaigns to invite students and parents to the open houses.

The efforts of the enrolment management staff are apparent, but they aren’t the only ones giving the college a good name.

Tibbits brought out a report by economist Larry Smith, called Adapting for Prosperity, during the meeting.

The report was released on March 5 and was meant to highlight the accomplishments of Conestoga graduates and their contributions to the region.

The area in question was made up of Waterloo Region, Guelph and Stratford.

The study showed that 65 per cent of Conestoga graduates still live in this area. That’s 10 per cent of the area’s adult population, which Tibbits noted, is a very big number.

Also, almost 2,200 local businesses are run by Conestoga graduates, which is about 10 per cent of the businesses in the area.

But most impressive was the fact that 47 per cent of the local population have taken a course at Conestoga.

The study was designed to let people know what the college is doing for the community. But Tibbits also hopes to use these numbers to encourage government funding.

“Certainly we’ll let the ministry know about this,” he said, “because if we’re trying to advocate why we should get growth money sooner, it’s nice to let them know how important we are in the community.”

The next meeting will be held on May 7 at noon and will feature free pizza, something Tibbits was happy to discuss.

“The pizza, I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

“I mean it’s two months away, but it’s on my radar.”