Red Deer College has broken with tradition in its choice of a new dean for the Donald School of Business.
The college announced on Thursday that Darcy Mykytyshyn will head its business program, effective Oct. 1. The 41-year-old has deep connections in the local business community, including as a former executive with Community Savings (now Servus Credit Union), partner with True-Line Homes, investment attraction officer with Central Alberta: Access Prosperity and principal of consulting firm Strategy in Action Inc.
Mykytyshyn has also chaired United Way of Central Alberta fundraising campaigns, sits on the Servus Credit Union board of directors and has been involved in a number of charitable groups and initiatives — including fundraising for Red Deer College.
His post-secondary education, which consists of a bachelor of commerce degree from the University of Saskatchewan, lacks the depth of most college deans’ academic resumés. But Brad Donaldson, Red Deer College’s vice-president academic, said the selection committee looked beyond classroom experience.
“We wanted somebody who had demonstrated business acumen, business development, strong sense of community connection, strong sense of leadership capacity.”
Donaldson said the college was looking for a dean who is familiar with the needs of local business and industry, and could shape the program’s learning environment to reflect these.
“Business and industry is so strong in Central Alberta that we want to make sure that we’re truly connected to what they need and what they want. We needed somebody who has the experience to be able to talk the language and understand the perspectives of the business community.”
Mykytshyn said he embraces this role.
“I’ve got a very clear mandate to get out there and start talking to business, building stronger relationships with them.
“The idea is really to integrate the business community into curriculum development, curriculum delivery — it might even be a matter of reaching into the business community and bringing some of those folks in to help teach some classes.”
The Donald School of Business’s Entrepreneur in Residence Program — which allows students to meet with and learn from local business people — is a good example of how this model can work, said Mykytyshyn.
“I really want to build on that. I think there’s a whole host of entrepreneurs that we could bring in here and serve as mentors for students.”
The college plans to hire an associate business dean, said Donaldson, with this person to focus on academic areas like curriculum development. Red Deer College does not have associate deans in its other programs, but the model is common elsewhere, he said.
Among Mykytyshyn’s priorities will be expanding the degree programs available through the Donald School of Business. Currently, business students at the college can earn a Mount Royal University bachelor of business administration degree in Red Deer, or transfer to another university after two years of local study.
“The more ability students from our region have to attend RDC, and stay in Central Alberta, the better off our region will be, the faster Central Alberta will grow and we will turn into the economic powerhouse that everybody predicts we will be, should be, or maybe are already today,” Mykytyshyn said during a ceremony at the Donald School of Business’s downtown campus in the Millennium Centre.
Joanne Packham was dean of the Donald School of Business until this spring. Torben Andersen, Red Deer College’s dean of arts, has served as the acting business dean since.