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Big plans for Red River College

New boss eyes soccer complex, more facilities

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 21/8/2011 (3281 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Stephanie Forsyth has big plans for Red River College, including a strong aboriginal focus in its new strategic plan, which will be coming out in November.


Stephanie Forsyth has big plans for Red River College, including a strong aboriginal focus in its new strategic plan, which will be coming out in November.

Classrooms, labs and workshops packed with future carpenters, welders, dental assistants, people who can make and fix really big machines -- and maybe Red River College will have an indoor soccer complex too.

RRC president Stephanie Forsyth wants a huge indoor soccer complex at Notre Dame Avenue and Route 90, just like the four-field complex at the University of Manitoba and the one planned for the University of Winnipeg.

"We can't have all those sports facilities on university campuses," declared Forsyth, approaching her first anniversary as president.

Forsyth said she's met with veteran urban planner Harry Finnigan, whom the Winnipeg Soccer Federation hired to plan the expansion of the city's top-calibre soccer facilities.

"I'm sure hoping," said Forsyth. "That kind of facility would lend itself to lacrosse and field hockey."

Red River is introducing men's and women's varsity soccer this fall, and Forsyth would be enthusiastically open to adding artificial turf and lights on the college's two fields on the Notre Dame campus.

Sports is just one more way to engage students in a sense of community when they're on campus and a way of bringing the community to campus -- especially young kids whose first taste of universities often comes at camps, clinics and games hosted at the U of M and the U of W.

Red River has a new strategic plan coming in November, Forsyth said. "How do we develop more of a sense of community, a campus that's welcoming to students and the public?

"One thing we think you'll see this winter is an outdoor skating rink."

The top capital priority for the Notre Dame campus remains a heavy equipment transportation centre, she said. "We're still after that big donor.

"It would be good to get some student housing on campus. There might be some opportunity for (retail) shops," Forsyth pointed out.

She has struck a task force to increase the number of international students at Red River, currently there are 353, and to open up opportunities for RRC students and faculty to go overseas.

Forsyth acknowledged what's been an open secret for years -- Red River would have an interest in the Public Safety Building when the police move out. The college's architect has had an initial look, though RRC is still a long way from finding out what it would cost to renovate, rehabilitate and transform the massive cop shop into an educational building.

"If the opportunity presented itself, it's in great proximity to the Roblin centre" on Princess Street and to the Patterson Globalfoods Institute still being built in the former Union Bank Tower, she said.

"I've said to the city we could and should expand in the downtown core for language and aboriginal programming. We have no idea if that's (the PSB) realistic," said Forsyth.

Red River has 1,200 language students and 60 staff in the Via Rail station who would benefit from being part of the downtown campus, she said.

As for the Union Bank Tower, that's behind schedule, she said, but the new culinary arts school and the 104-bed student residence should open in the spring, and the school's upscale restaurant will be a go in the fall of 2012. "It's a little behind schedule, not unexpectedly when it's a 1903 building," she said.

Forsyth has hopes for a new building on the Notre Dame campus to house the trades. The facilities were built in the 1960s, and "they're definitely showing their age," she said. "We have infrastructure here that's in dire need of replacement."

A little further afield, Forsyth has been talking with new Confederation College president Jim Madder about partnering at the Thunder Bay school's Kenora campus.

"We've talked about how we can best serve the aboriginal people in the area," said Madder, who is from Winnipeg. Confederation is also looking at developing transportation and tourism programs in Kenora.

Forsyth cautioned any partnerships would have to be a cost-recovery deal, because Manitoba taxes can't be used to educate Ontario residents. Still, she said, "I'm a big believer in collaboration."

Forsyth developed a far greater awareness of her own aboriginal heritage when she served as president of Northwest Community College in northern B.C. The new strategic plan will have a strong aboriginal focus, she said.

"It's providing the proper environment, recognizing some of their culture, having elder support... broaden the understanding of what it means when we talk about aboriginal education."

Forsyth definitely sees one senior hire in the near future -- a person identical to Deborah Young, the U of M's new aboriginal lead in indigenous achievement.

"It's really important to have that position report directly to the president, looking holistically at the institution," Forsyth said.

Red River needs access programs to reach potential students who have the capabilities but not the qualifications for courses demanding ever-higher entry standards, Forsyth said.



wish list


Red River College president Stephanie Forsyth isn't taking sides in the Oct. 4 provincial election, but there are definitely issues she wants to hear the parties address:

-- Renewing the 1960s infrastructure on the Notre Dame campus

-- Improving the ability of college and university students to transfer their credits between institutions

-- Encouraging a greater participation rate in community colleges by all Manitobans

-- Strategies to attract more aboriginal and international students to community colleges.



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