Words of Paul Dangerfield, President, Capilano University, for President’s Installation
Monday, October 17, 4 p.m.
BlueShore Financial Centre for the Performing Arts
O Siem. Thank you for being here. I raise my hands, in the tradition of our First Nations, to honour and welcome you all.
It is a great privilege for us to have the Honourable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia with us today. Your Honour, thank you for presiding over our ceremony, and for your kind words.
We are proud to have well over 400 students of aboriginal ancestry attending Capilano University and we look forward to them growing as members of our campus community. Representatives of the Mount Currie/Lil’wat; Musqueam; Squamish; Sechelt and Tsleil-Waututh
Nations--thank you for your presence and for bearing witness to this ceremony. Your unwavering commitment to the advancement of aboriginal youth and education is acknowledged and valued.
British Columbia is a province where people place great value in education. It is testament to this that we have with us today our local MLAs as guests. Your ongoing support and commitment to our university is very much appreciated.
I’m pleased to acknowledge the District of North Vancouver; the City of North Vancouver; the District of Squamish; the Resort Municipality of Whistler; and the District of Sechelt - it is with pride that we serve your communities.
Distinguished guests and colleagues from other institutions, it means a great deal to me that you are here. We are all made stronger by collaboration across the sector and even across international borders. We are all connected
As Shakespeare wrote: “The readiness is all”. North Vancouver School District; West Vancouver School District; Vancouver School District; Burnaby School District Superintendent and Sea-to-Sky School District--you oversee the preparation of many future students
of Capilano University. Capilano University’s approach to experiential learning creates the environment where our students are able to apply the knowledge they gain with us to do great things. We believe this model can and should begin during their time in school. We look forward to close collaboration with you in
the years ahead to further our common goal where students’ lives are enriched by learning and they are prepared to serve society and have meaningful careers that lead our communities.
To those who serve on the Senate and the Board of Capilano University, I thank you for attending, and for your support. I look forward to working with you to ensure good governance of the university and stewardship of the resources entrusted in us for the benefit of students and all stakeholders. To the leaders of MoveUP, the Capilano Student Union and the Capilano Faculty Association, your voices, as representatives of our faculty, staff and students are essential to a thriving and dynamic culture. Our growth, transformation and evolution is made possible by your professionalism, engagement and commitment to innovative education and Capilano University.
I extend heartfelt thanks to Richard Gale, vice president, academic & provost, for his service as acting president of Capilano University and taking on the simultaneous duties of both these critical roles over the past several months. I also appreciate
the time and perspective provided to me by past presidents Kris Bulcroft and Greg Lee in preparation for this role.
No president can work in isolation. No president can possibly have all the answers to the challenges we face in running a university. And no president has all the good ideas. I firmly believe leadership comes from all levels and the leadership team, deans and
directors, you represent the important part of the team that provides leadership and vision to the University to your respective departments and service areas. Your expertise, innovation and compassion to develop solutions to the challenges that we face will
be pivotal as we navigate through the complexities and exciting opportunities of higher education over the next decade.
Our roots here on the North Shore go back to Squamish Chief Joe Capilano - Sahp-luk -, who was also known as Joe Mathias. Sahp-luk was a courageous advocate for education, and the rights of indigenous people at a time of great inequality in Canada’s history. Today, more than 100 years after his passing we remain grateful for his namesake and strive to honour his values.
Our history began as an idea, formed in the late 1960s, and first realized when the doors of two portables attached to West Vancouver Secondary School were opened. We have grown from that first semester of 1968, which welcomed 678 students, to our current enrollment of over 11,000 in both credit and non-credit courses. While the administrative leadership has of course played a role in this, it is without a doubt the leadership in our classrooms and staff rooms which has established Capilano as a place committed to great teaching and great students. The impact of which has been decades of attracting and supporting students from all demographics throughout the Sunshine Coast and North Shore, across BC and from around the world. For those of you who follow the work of Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, he quite accurately disputes the myth that those who work in public education have it easier than industry and business. Collins
argues the challenges found in organizations like universities are far more complex because of the many competing demands from society, the need to understand and respect diverse values, all the while planning for and predicting what our graduates will need in an uncertain future. Having started my academic career teaching at Capilano, I know first-hand about the challenges and what drives our faculty and staff. It is as one of our colleagues said to me the other day over a coffee: “at Capilano we pay attention to our students,” and that’s why we are successful.
In his essay “The Emergence of the Culture of Capilano College” published in “The Dialogue Continues” Crawford Kilian recalls the founding faculty this way. “We had absorbed one principle from our parents’ generation and their experience: Education was a public good more than a private benefit. Yes, graduates might earn more, but they also had an obligation to take a constructive part in democratic society. We had been educated as citizens, not as consumers, and we would try to convey that principle to our students.”
If you study the University’s coat-of-arms that appears on today’s program, you will see the image of two winged bears, facing each other. Between them is the University’s motto: “through learning to a greater good”. A coat-of-arms is an enduring symbol and its motto should reflect what we are ever striving towards. Both true and aspirational, Capilano University abounds with success stories, of undergraduates and graduates who are advancing their studies, succeeding in their chosen professions, and contributing to a better world.
These and many others are our changemakers. They come from every one of our faculties: Global and Community Studies; Arts & Sciences; Business & Professional Studies; Education, Health and Human Development and Fine and Applied Arts. They may be learning at
our North Vancouver campus, our Sechelt campus or Mount Currie…And with 74 countries represented on campus, they are coming to us from all over the world. The reach of our students and graduates is astonishing, and I believe we are positioning ourselves not only for that to continue, but to grow. It will speak
to the relevance of our programs and teaching, as they take up their place in the solving the world’s struggles, in addressing social needs.
Now, let me speak to all that unites us. The values of Capilano University begin with diversity and the individuality of all learners. Ours is a culture of inquiry and evidence-based decision making. We respect academic inquiry and open engagement with each
other. We operate with recognition and commitment to our local communities, transparency and fairness. Everyone has a contribution to make in the success of the University and I want to see people well-supported to be able to do their best work here.
Over the past several months, it’s been my privilege to be included, and participate in, an engagement process with our campus community to update the University’s brand. Hundreds of voices contributed to an insightful analysis of who we are and the
results affirm that we offer a unique learning, teaching and campus experience that sets us apart in the provincial, national and global university context. Our dialogue discovered that we want to inspire a greater sense of pride and spirit in all members of our
campus community. We will recognize the experiencethat is Cap whether you are an employee, alumni, friend or student. We will ensure the community recognizes that Capilano University is a place to complete meaningful programs, whether that is
the form of a citation, diploma, degree or through Continuing Studies & Executive Education.
Creativity also emerged as a strength of Capilano worth celebrating and encouraging at every opportunity. We define creativity, not only in our program offerings, but how we say who we are, how we approach and solve problems, how we relate to each other, and how we celebrate our successes. Get ready for a bolder approach to
recognizing our resourcefulness and the flashes of brilliance that don’t happen anywhere else but here.
In the last several years, we have seen many demonstrations of the emotional connection our employees, students, alumni and members of the community feel towards Capilano. These connections are deeply felt, highly personal and tend to reflect an appreciation of Capilano’s history and physical environment, its North Shore
setting, the trees and the mountains that shape our setting. Every day, this beautiful campus reminds us of the importance of thinking, acting and leading sustainability initiatives.
Lastly, we have been reminded of the importance of encouraging a culture of cooperation within the Cap experience. This does not mean we will always agree on matters large or small—we are a university, after all, we revel in lively discourse and spirited
debate! But when we go forward, we go forward together, each contributing their strengths to what we can do to support student success. I believe in a culture of empowerment and continuous improvement, where we each bring our perspectives, our intelligence and energy to make things better.
I’m going to confess something here. When I was asked about music for this ceremony, I admitted that in addition to being a huge jazz fan, (looks like I’m coming to the right place) at the end of the day, even though I enjoy all music, I will always
choose to put a classic rock album on the record player over anything else. So let me go out on a limb and be a little less presidential for a moment. In his autobiography, Life, Keith Richards describes when a group makes music together as the following: “This wonderful
little world that is unassailable. It's really teamwork, one guy supporting the others, and it's all for one purpose… It's really jazz. That’s the big secret. Rock and roll ain't nothing but jazz with a hard backbeat.”
So here I stand before you, the new guy, and I am hopeful that it’s not only our music students making music… I believe we’re all making jazz here, and when we give it that backbeat, it rocks. Time will tell how this idea plays out, but I like
thinking about Capilano as this wonderful
little world that is unassailable, come what may. It’s a good thought, yes, change is inevitable, yes, we try and test our thinking, yes, we question ideas and assumptions and we can do all that and be the stronger for it, and I’m here, that new guy, supporting all of you the very best that I can, stressing
the backbeat, the teamwork, the thing that catches us all up together to create a one-of-a-kind experience here at Capilano, for ourselves, for everyone.
I’ve been asked a lot lately, Paul, why Capilano? Why are you here? Why now? Just under thirty years ago I was a young officer looking across the border from West Germany to Czechoslovakia never dreaming the Cold War would come to an end. Twenty years
ago to this day I was in Rwanda helping refugees escape a civil war in Zaire and return home. Ten years ago, I was teaching leadership and strategy classes to global stewardship and business students doing my best to prepare them for the real challenges in the world. Since that time I’ve been privileged to work
at two other outstanding institutions who are represented here tonight and learn from students, faculty, staff and leaders what it takes to be a world leader in education. So why Capilano now? I’ll set aside the practical explanation that I am now ready having being
mentored and supported along the way by so many special people. The real reason, is, simply put that I was so deeply influenced by many colleagues in the short time that I was here in 2005-2008. During that time, I was assimilated into what we know as the
Capilano family. On October 3rd when I arrived, the welcome I received was tremendous making any doubt as to why Capilano vanish. And so now I feel it is the right time for me to take up the baton, or the mace, if you will and support the creation of the pathway for the next 50 years.
When I teach leadership or strategy I always bring the human factor into my classes and integrate these two subjects. This is because I profoundly believe it is all leaders responsibility to know their people and what is important to them. No matter
how good the plan is, it is always about the people you are working with. A great quote about the importance of the human factor is by Peter Drucker who famously said: Culture eats strategy for
breakfast. And I never forget it.
The future our students are going to face is full of exciting opportunities and tremendous challenges. We will be ready support them, because we are going to look after ourselves and lead by example by being leaders in education.
We are going to care for our team so that together we can achieve great things.
As Sun Tzu said over 2500 years ago:
There are not more than five musical notes, yet
the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be
heard. There are not more than five primary colors, yet in combination they
produce more hues than can ever been seen. There are not more than five
cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be
And now as I prepare to conclude, I must acknowledge my family because without them I most certainly would not be here. To my parents, Jack and Jenn who are here today. Your commitment not only to me but to all of us has been unwavering. To my very special wife, Catherine who has been at my side as my mentor, coach and advisor. She has also been the loving mother of our two incredible daughters, Charlotte and Amelia who have also been staunch supporters of 2 parents with very busy careers. I could not have achieved any of this with you, thank you.
I am both humbled and honoured by this ceremony of investiture and installation. I thank all the hard-working individuals who created this event and all of you who are here to recognize the deep significance of this ceremony to our University. It marks a
new beginning, in the exploration of the possible. While I appreciate my place at the podium today, I also recognize that it is only by working together that we mark a true turning point in the history of Capilano University.
Thank you. O Siem. I raise my hands to you.
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