December 14, 2018

BY CHRIS HUSSEY
The Welcome Centre at the Doon campus is normally ripe with activity and energy. After all, it does hold many of the essential college services that students depend on. On most nights after 6 p.m., this energy is long gone until it starts all over again the next business day.

But on Nov. 9, just a short walk upstairs, there was a very different kind of energy.

Conestoga’s College Board of Governors held a meeting that night in the Welcome Centre, and the board had their eyes set on the future of the institution.

One notable topic raised were renovations to the A-wing, the oldest area of the Doon campus and arguably the area most in need. The renovations would come on the heels of the facelift to the C-wing on the main floor, which primarily holds classes in the School of Media and Design. Rusty McLay, the college’s chief administrative officer, said the college is in the preliminary stages of planning the renovations.

“As with our other renovations at Doon to date … our focus will be on enhancing the learning environment for students,” he said.

He added the exact scope and schedule was still yet to be determined, although the board discussed next summer as a possibility.

The board also focused on specific services available for students. Bonnie Lipton-Bos, manager of the Learning Commons, delivered a presentation to the board to provide some insight into the work being done by the department. During this presentation, she discussed some of the plans she is hoping to see take shape in the future, including extending the department’s service beyond 4:30 p.m.

“There’s no question there’s more we can do,” she said.

The Learning Commons provides a number of different services to assist students with their academic needs. While they do have a redesigned online website, known as the Virtual Learning Commons, the department doesn’t currently provide in-person assistance beyond 4:30 p.m.

Some changes, however, will take effect as soon as next semester. Peter Benninger, president of Coldwell Banker Peter Benninger Realty, served as chair during the meeting, and he said the recreation centre is set to be fully open by early next year.

“We’re working towards opening (the athletics and recreation centre) as soon as possible,” he said.

These changes are part of a larger expansion that started five years ago. In fact, 40 per cent more space has been added to the college over the past five years, according to college president John Tibbits.

The college has explored a variety of partnerships and collaborations as part of this expansion. More recently, Conestoga College partnered with the University of Waterloo and Schlegel Villages to launch The Centre of Excellence and Innovation in Aging on Oct. 30. The new facility is on the university’s north campus, and provides opportunities for students and faculty to work alongside Schlegel staff and residents. Tibbits said it was a great opportunity for the college and a sign of how much the college has evolved over the past few years.

“I never would have believed we’d be on that campus,” he said.

Tibbits also pointed out that the college wants to make Conestoga even better for students.

“What we are trying to do is change the culture,” he said. “We are working harder at helping students succeed.”

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