With a mission “to transform lives and enrich communities through the power of education,” the College of the Rockies revealed its 2015-2020 strategic plan to an invited Creston audience yesterday.
The strategic plan, introduced by president and CEO David Walls, was the culmination of a yearlong process that included consultation with communities, students and staff to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
“We’re working to make sure we’re working with the communities we serve,” said Walls.
The mission statement changed little from its pervious incarnation — “If anything, we reinforced it by the verbs we put in there,” Walls said — but the plan’s vision statement is totally new: “To create and deliver the most personal student experience in Canada.”
That will be determined by the ultimate goals of recruiting and retaining more students, better preparing graduates for the job market and better preparing students for the next stage of their education.
A new brand promise, “Rocky Mountain inspired. Small college proud,” is among the keys to making that happen.
“Rocky Mountain inspired” means, among other things, that the college reaches higher, doesn’t compromise on the quality of education and delivers programs based on the region’s strengths. “Small college proud” highlights personal attention and quick decisions on things that matter.
With provincial funding declining, competition from larger institutions and the young population in the area decreasing (the average age among COTR’s 2,500 students is 24), the college could simply cut services to keep functioning.
“Eventually, we’ll get smaller and less relevant, and clearly we don’t want to do that,” Walls said. “We want to continue to grow as a college.”
With a main campus in Cranbrook, and regional campuses in Creston, Fernie, Golden, Invermere, and Kimberley, building relationships is a significant part of maintaining awareness in the communities the college serves. Appreciation of the people, land and culture is among the four key values outlined in the plan.
There is room for the plan to grow, Walls said, noting that most strategic plans last less than five years. Changes will come as the plan is implemented and goals are reached.
“It’s not going to sit on a shelf,” he said. “We’re cascading it into all our divisions.”
Developing the strategic plan was a key mandate for Walls, who succeeded Dr. Nick Rubidge, president for 12 years, in 2013.
“It’s like having a map,” said Creston’s Dave Handy, who serves as COTR board chair. “You have to have somewhere to go.”
The plan, available to download at www.cotr.bc.ca/strategic-plan, has already been well received.
“I think the college is engaged,” he said. “I get that sense from the faculty I’ve gotten to know and from management.”