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

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Your thoughts and feedback are welcome: president@capilanou.ca

May 2021


 

Digital Transformation

At Capilano University, we’ve become so adept at functioning at a distance this past year that it’s easy to forget there are many new employees who have yet to set foot on an actual campus since joining CapU!

I am inspired by, and grateful for, the resourcefulness and resilience that continues to come forward from our community throughout this challenging time. At the same time, I am looking forward to seeing our campuses come alive again this September when we are all finally able to come together in person safely.

Even for introverts like me, there is something exciting about the spark of creative energy that comes from face-to-face interactions. Yes, it’s true we have learned to be efficient and effective in the virtual space these past many months—but I think from time to time we are reminded of what we are missing, too. I am really looking forward to the return of coffee conversations with members of our community—the kind of organic engagement that stimulates imaginative thinking and creative problem-solving.

Building better virtual connections

With the timely implementation of Office 365, MS Teams and Zoom, we learned we could work more flexibly and increase access to serve students better. We learned that payment processes can be shifted exclusively online and that virtual counselling better accommodates varied student schedules and locations. We are moving now towards retaining the best of the virtual systems implemented during the pandemic, and restoring and reinforcing the best in-person practices for student, employees and the many communities we serve.

To that end, our Chief Information Officer Kristin Wilkes is leading the development of a new Digital Transformation Plan—a transformative, community-informed strategy that will guide CapU as we make the coordinated culture, workforce and technology shifts that will enable new, future-proofed educational and operating models. It’s a big topic—and possibly even an intimidating one!—but Kristin has prepared a series of very short and informative videos explaining the whatwhy and how of this initiative.

Becoming more globally engaged

Digital transformation will be felt across all areas of our University—as will another major strategic shift in the area of internalization. Led by International Director Chris Bottrill, CapU’s new Internationalization Plan was recently approved by Senior Leadership Council and endorsed by Senate, and will begin a three-year roll-out this fall with the goal of becoming a more globally engaged and progressive University.

At CapU, we are widely known for the warm welcome and strong support we offer to international students—indeed, at least a third of our student population comes from another country. But there is much work still to be done to become a fully internationalized University: one that engages the wider University community in global affairs and initiatives. We are committed to enriching curriculum, knowledge generation and learner support by deepening intercultural understanding at all levels of the University both academic and operational, and will be establishing a Centre for Global Engagement to help guide this evolution.

In the meantime, our international students have in particular felt the sting of COVID-19—and have endured with perseverance and grace. Almost 700 international students started at CapU over the last academic year. I am proud of their tenacity and of the CapU employees who have assisted our international students towards success under less than optimal circumstances.

Finding the opportunities ahead

As we prepare for the return to campus this September, I look forward not to a return to normal, but to the start of something new. Here are some of the people who will be helping to lead Capilano University into its post-pandemic future:

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Kristin Wilkes:Ultimately, this is about people.

CapU’s Chief Information Officer Kristin Wilkes says, “COVID-19 taught us—though not necessarily in an ideal way!—that even though we’re human and don’t always like change, we’re capable of meeting the challenge. Digital transformation is critical to advancing our shared goal of providing an exceptional student experience. We know from the research that six of the top seven major benefits of digital transformation are directly focused on student success. It also enables an improved employee experience, which ultimately also supports our students. To truly embrace digital transformation, it’s important we remain open to change, recognizing that ultimately this is about our students, employees, alumni and the broader community—and not about technology for the sake of technology.”

 

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Micki McCartney: “Digital literacy is a core skill our students, employees and community members need.”

As regional director of CapU’s kálax-ay Sunshine Coast Campus in Sechelt, Micki McCartney embraces the potential of digital transformation to extend community reach: “It promises to increase access to educational and development opportunities across our region—a community digital literacy centre is one idea that comes to mind for how we might provide life-long opportunities for learning alongside the traditional academic journey. I'm excited about the possibilities of these new models and ways of thinking.”

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Chris Bottrill: “We have a role to play in helping a healing planet.”

As Director of International and chair of the BC Heads of International Education—a group comprised senior international officers for 23 colleges and teaching universities—Bottrill says “CapU has taken a proactive role in helping B.C. universities and colleges collaborate to collectively emerge stronger from this challenging time. COVID-19 has left strong impact on the globe. We have seen a sharp rise in nationalism and its attendant risks and a continuation of threats to the well-being of our environment and communities. As educators, it is imperative that we step up to help build a more collaborative, tolerant and inclusive society as the world begins to emerge from this crisis.”

Stay safe and stay connected,

Paul

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