After spending almost my entire adult life in an academic setting the arrival of September seems to trigger a deep emotional stirring – almost like some vestigial genetic impulse to return home. This is undoubtedly related to the anticipation of seeing thousands of students for whom this academic year marks a new beginning in their lives. The fact that we as faculty and staff get swept up in this annual cycle strikes me as one of the great privileges of being a member of the College community.
And, while much of my excitement feels familiar, there is something decidedly different about this year. This is not surprising giving that we are about to embark on the implementation of our portfolio model which, in my view, is the most significant post-secondary educational reform in Canada. I am so very proud of our college’s willingness to put ourselves ‘out there’ because of our belief in the efficacy of the portfolio model and its related benefits to our students. As I mentioned at the Summit, the NSCC portfolio model represents the most significant institutional initiative to facilitate lifelong learning since the UNESCO report brought the term into public consciousness some 29 years ago.
The other ritual associated with the beginning of the academic year is answering the ‘what did you do on your summer vacation?’ question. Let me attempt to answer that question on behalf of our college.
The announcement this summer of corporate partnerships with PanCanadian and Dexter Construction represented a major breakthrough for the NSCC. Dexter, already a leader in the construction industry, saw a human resource gap that could potentially affect their competitive position. The partnership with the NSCC created the Dexter Institute, which will deliver a two-year program focusing on heavy equipment operations but including much broader educational objectives. In this innovative model, students will be guaranteed employment upon graduating and will receive a rebate for half their tuition should they remain with Dexter for a period of two years.
In July, on the very day that the semi-submersible drill rig, Eirik Raude, entered Halifax Harbour, PanCanadian Petroleum (and their partners Ocean Rig of Norway and the Irving- owned Halifax Shipyards) announced a 2.25 million dollar contribution to the NSCC. This funding is intended to support the development of an offshore technology program at the College. The PanCanadian partnership marks the single largest private sector contribution in our college’s history!
It is also noteworthy that both projects were founded on the premise that college programming was identified as a crucial factor in the corporate success of both companies. Furthermore, these partnerships prove to be very effective in illuminating NSCC’s role in creating opportunities for Nova Scotians by equipping them with the skills and knowledge directly connected to our economic future.
It is little wonder that our sense of anticipation is heightened given our success this summer and the implementation of the portfolio model this fall. Where else would one rather be this academic year than the Nova Scotia Community College?