Joel Ward is president and CEO of Red Deer College.

College Beat: RDC charts new path for the future

Red Deer College has just concluded our 54th Convocation, and I am reminded of how important our graduates will be to the economic, cultural and social growth of our region. We are proud of their accomplishments and the future they will imagine and create.

With the announcement on March 1st, by our premier, the Honourable Rachel Notley, RDC has been given the green light to add our own degrees to our current program offerings.

We will continue to offer our apprenticeship and technical programs along with our one and two year programs, but with the addition of new four-year programs, students will have more choices, and more opportunities to complete their education closer to their home communities.

At RDC, our academic leaders and faculty have created a program plan that includes new degrees, certificates and diplomas. In 2018-19, we are launching five new programs, with four of these starting in the fall:

1. Four-year Bachelor of Applied Arts in Animation and Visual Effects

2. Four-year Bachelor of Science in Psychology in Collaboration with the University of Calgary

3. Two-year Justice Studies Diploma

4. One-year Pre-Health Sciences Certificate

5. One-year Health Care Management Post-Diploma Certificate

RDC is also currently working with our partners in government and the Campus Alberta Quality Council through the review and approval process for new certificates in Education and Business, and a new degree in the School of Creative Arts. We look forward to sharing updates, as we are able.

Although we are excited about these new programs, we made the decision to reposition music offerings to respond to decreasing demand and enrollment. It was a difficult decision and has evoked a passionate and emotional response from some in our community. Here are the facts:

l The RDC Music diploma program has suffered from decreasing demand and enrollment over the last several years despite targeted recruiting and marketing efforts.

l With multiple providers across the province, some of whom have committed significant resources to new programs and facilities, it has become increasingly difficult for RDC to compete for students in this area.

l RDC has suspended intake into year 1 of the Music Diploma and Music preparatory courses. Current students in the Music Diploma program will be fully supported through 2018-19 in order for them to meet their graduation requirements.

l Students who wish to attend RDC in order to prepare for future application into Music degree programs at other institutions can be served through conservatory offerings in performance and theory while taking transferable credit electives through Open Studies.

l Music electives will continue to be offered to support existing programs and additional music electives will be developed to support future degrees and diplomas across the institution.

l Members of the broader community will continue to have access to one-on-one or small group lessons on their instrument of choice through the conservatory, opportunity to participate in the Symphonic Winds ensemble, and access to RDC facilities, performance spaces, and technical expertise through continuing education and community partnerships. A wide range of music camps, festivals, and concerts will continue to play an important role at RDC, as will our partnership with the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.

For some, though, no explanation will suffice, and I acknowledge that it can feel like something important is being lost.

RDC will continue to develop new programs that prepare students for great careers and lives. As we gather to celebrate the graduating class of 2018, and in consideration of our transition to University status, we restate our commitment to our learners’ futures and the success of our region as they begin the next chapter of their lives.

Joel Ward is president & CEO of Red Deer College

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