This is a bimonthly newsletter featuring community updates from Capilano University President and Vice-Chancellor Paul Dangerfield.

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February 2024

Recently, on the beautiful drive up to Squamish to sign an MOU that will strengthen Capilano University’s ties with the Sea to Sky School District, I pondered a recent blog post by Colleges & Institutes Canada highlighting the power of partnerships in the evolving post-secondary landscape. To become “true MVPs,” the post argues, higher education must collaborate more closely with government, employers and community partners to identify and solve pressing societal issues, from housing and healthcare to ocean warming and wildfires.

Partnerships with real-world impacts

At CapU, that commitment to meaningful and productive partnerships is baked right into our strategic plan. A few years ago, when we launched the Envisioning 2030 consultation process, we went out to the communities we serve to find out not what our university could do for them, but we might do together for the greater good. It was a truly uplifting experience for me to sit down with eight mayors to talk about the innovative ways we might strengthen the social, economic and environmental viability of their respective regions.

So what does that look like in practical terms? In the past five years, CapU has announced almost two dozen partnerships and MOUs with real-world impact for coastal marine eco-systems, tourism recovery, the film industry, and Indigenous business growth—to name just a few areas where we’re making a difference.

A real win for learners

These burgeoning relationships represent a real win for learners like Alysha Monk—now a proud CapU alum and research grants officer in the office of creative activity, research and scholarship at CapU—who have opportunities to gain research experience with a connection to home. Through a partnership with the Howe Sound Biosphere Region Initiative Society,  CapU learners and faculty have the opportunity to be involved in applied, local research with a United Nations connection. Monk—who “wanted to get involved with something that would create some change for good”—served as a lead researcher studying sustainable forestry practices in Squamish.

Up and down the Sea-to-Sky corridor, from North Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast and all the way up to Whistler, CapU is helping communities to attract, train and retain talented young people like Alysha. Which brings me back to our newest MOU with the Squamish school district, which will help more high school students transition to university right in their own backyard at our new Squamish campus.

Higher education that stays close to its communities

Our ambitious partnership plans—watch for an expansion of the popular CityStudio program and new graduate degrees—mean we will be shifting resources to boost our career development and Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) initiatives. Our learners will gain more practical experience along with their book smarts, right from first year onwards—a definite competitive advantage come graduation.

We are paying greater attention to our real purpose: higher education that stays close to its communities. I see a tremendous opportunity in this beautiful-but-costly region for learners from B.C. and beyond to connect more deeply with the places where they live and learn. At CapU, we are striving to deliver a distinctive educational experience that ultimately equips them to work, settle and thrive. We need to get that mix exactly right. And we can’t do it without our partners.

Here’s to continued collaboration,




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