Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/10/2010 (4112 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Think of Red River College and maybe you think of future plumbers and electricians and carpenters and computer programmers and medical technicians, and people learning how to build, maintain and fix huge and complex machinery.
When new RRC president Stephanie Forsyth thinks of the college, she thinks about how the school and its students can relate to the planet, and how Red River can attract and keep students now too often unable to benefit from an education.
"I don't consider myself an academic. I'm first and foremost a practitioner," said Forsyth, her new office on the Notre Dame campus already adorned with a star blanket and pieces by aboriginal artisans.
"Indigenous spirituality, which is more a way of life than a religion, resonates with me. We need to be careful about balancing the environment with what we do.
"Are we the dominant species, or do we interact with all species?" said Forsyth.
Forsyth has just arrived permanently on campus, most recently president of Northwest Community College in northern B.C., hired after former president Jeff Zabudsky unexpectedly left to take over a large college in the Toronto suburbs.
Zabudsky oversaw enormous physical growth at Red River -- the culinary arts school, restaurant and residence in the Exchange District are scheduled to open in September -- introduced degree-granting status and applied research grants, and had his eye on further potential expansion to the Public Safety Building and a third campus in southeast Winnipeg.
Forsyth laughed that she's met hundreds of people so far, is still finding her way around the campuses and isn't ready to speculate on what could be a lengthy list of expansion projects.
But she wants to try what worked in northern B.C. and in her previous college jobs in the B.C. southern Interior and in poverty-stricken areas of Vancouver.
"I'm hoping that's one of the strengths I can bring, the lessons we've learned in northern B.C."
Applied research can mean improving commercialization, to train students in means of getting products to the market, she said. It also means designing ways to deliver programs so they meet the needs of aboriginal students and at-risk students.
Residences for students trying to adjust to the city are essential, be they students from a First Nation or from overseas, she said.
Forsyth has long advocated having a working residence as hands-on training for hotel management, something she may propose here.
And she believes strongly in regional campuses that take programs to people's own communities.
"How do we support the communities of southern Manitoba?" said Forsyth, who suggested building a campus in small communities rather than leasing empty buildings may be preferable, and urged that government and the post-secondary system plan a strategy for pulling all the area facilities together. "There doesn't seem to be a plan as such, from the government's perspective."
Red River College has just purchased the former Victoria School in an older neighbourhood of Portage la Prairie, and now plans consultation on what programs to offer.
RRC will demonstrate leadership in greening, Forsyth declared. "I'm really happy to see the greenhouses go up" on the Notre Dame campus, and maybe an aqua-ponics facility to farm fish could follow, she said.
Forsyth's original degree was in religious studies, and her master's is in higher education, Forsyth said.
Raised as a Mormon, she discovered her Blackfoot ancestry as an adult. She's worked closely with aboriginal people for decades, raised numerous aboriginal foster children, and was adopted into an aboriginal family in northern B.C. -- a rare honour, Forsyth said.