Toronto Public Health:
Update: June 1, 2020, 3:52 PM
Monday Message from Craig Stephenson, President and CEO
National Indigenous History Month and Pride Month Begin Today!
With the onset of summer comes numerous celebrations, festivities and occasions to reflect and gather. Within that context, two of the most significant events during the month of June begin today, June 1. Events that speak volumes to our values and our mission as an inclusive College: National Indigenous History Month and LGBTQ2S+ Pride Month. The former celebrates the history, heritage and diversity of Indigenous peoples, the latter commemorates the Stonewall riots of June 1969 and celebrates the impact LGBTQ2S+ people have had in our communities.
Both of these movements have become interwoven with Centennial’s annual cycle of academic and co-curricular activities, for they furnish us with a unique opportunity to take great pride in the friendship, support and the learning we offer each other and our community as a whole.
They also prompt us to reflect on the traumatic history of discrimination and injustices towards Indigenous and LGBTQ2S+ communities, to celebrate the vital contributions of these communities, and to renew our collective commitment to building a more all-embracing, egalitarian and democratic society.
If you have a moment, please watch my special video message marking the beginning of Indigenous History Month and Pride Month. I also hope you will join throughout the month of June with various workshops and educational opportunities celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21 and on June 25 for the Virtual Pride Watch Party. These virtual community events promise to be engaging, compelling and inspiring for all.
Summer Semester Has Begun!
Another significant date for us was the start of the Summer Semester, which I marked with a video welcoming new and returning students. It was a very notable moment, our first ever semester delivering a substantive suite of online programs – a fitting solution for both domestic and international learners during the present situation. Indeed, while several postsecondary institutions decided to curtail their summer programming our academic leaders, faculty and staff forged ahead in partnership with OntarioLearn to develop the curriculum and ensure that our doors remained open for returning students wishing to pick up where they left off, as well as new enrolments.
It was a bold move to undertake, especially during that period when the COVID-19 pandemic breached our corner of the world back in March. To all those who were involved in co-designing, developing and delivering the 23 online programs, thank you for your truly heroic efforts. Your contributions have bolstered the Centennial College brand both locally and internationally, safeguarded our enrolment numbers to a far stronger extent than would have otherwise been the case, and, in the process, have helped to maintain our financial sustainability – our North Star.
Summer Enrolment Figures
Faculty and staff are to be commended for drawing returning students back by offering an in-demand and quality-driven complement of programs and services. Both domestic and international returner numbers surpassed revised budget targets and in the case of international students, actually surpassed original budget targets! This is extraordinary and speaks to the ingenuity, adeptness and sheer determination of our service and academic teams.
Our favourable returner numbers – 1,355 domestic and 4,101 international students – are also evidence of our students’ resilience, grit and commitment to complete their studies. Not to mention their enormous faith in us to help them achieve their academic and career goals, virtually or otherwise. We will not let them down!
Conversely, attracting new students to begin their first semester with us this summer represented a taller order. Along with all postsecondary institutions, we are facing a significant challenge in enrolling new students, especially international students. Some potential applicants to postsecondary are uncertain that the time and resource sacrifices required are too high, or feel the barriers to participate, such as finances and personal circumstances, are now too challenging. Postsecondary education is, in fact, one of the most significant investments an individual can make, especially in turbulent times such as these. As such, we will continue to do everything we can to reach out personally to prospective students, promote the benefits of a quality online learning experience, share our incredible supports, and to assist with bursaries and other financial supports where able.
Although we were unable to run 19 program intakes this summer due to COVID-19, domestic enrolment met our revised targets – 282 new domestic students, representing over two-thirds of our pre-COVID summer enrolment target. The International Education team recruited and admitted 647 new international students, which in this current climate is a significant achievement and a credit to the team, and constitutes just over a third of our pre-COVID Summer enrolment target.
People still cannot move freely, especially international students, who, amongst other challenges, still encounter long delays in securing visas and study permits and even if they can overcome flight restrictions, face significant costs on entry to Canada to self-isolate at this time. Added to which, families may no longer have the funds to support their student’s education and students themselves have had to stop in their tracks, take stock and re-think their priorities.
Enrolment Surveys – Key Findings & the Way Forward
From April 14-24, the Institutional Research Office (IRO) in partnership with Academica Group, conducted the International Prospective Student Study (IPSS) to help us better understand our prospective international students’ situations, concerns, and plans for the coming Summer and Fall semesters. Overall, 2,556 prospective international students (i.e., students who received a Centennial offer for either the 2020 Summer or Fall semester) completed the survey, reflecting a response rate of 29.2%. What we learned from undertaking that survey is that international students remain dedicated to pursuing education in Canada and have no intention of giving up on higher education in the country altogether. What the pandemic has shaken is their certainty around commencing straight away; the survey indicated about half (51%) of prospective international students are willing to take classes online, while the remainder would rather delay until in-person classes are available.
Similarly, OCAS (Ontario Colleges Application Service) hosted an Applicant Intention Survey for domestic students between May 14 and May 27, and found that just over 10% of all respondents who have confirmed their application would be unlikely to attend college in the fall if the program is offered online and just over 20% were undecided; the remainder confirmed they were likely to attend.
Both data sets are promoting us to harness all our efforts and resources to influence those undecided or whose decision is “unlikely” at this stage – as we know there are multiple misconceptions about online learning (relating, for example, to the quality of instruction, the degree of interaction with faculty and classmates and the levels of service available) that need to be rectified.
Dedicated teams within Enrolment Services, International Education, Marketing & Communications, and each School are currently pulling out all the stops. They are reaching out to convince students who are on the fence about the quality and value of an online learning experience, and where the associated new skills can take them.
However, to make this work, we must work together. New student recruitment and current student persistence is part of each of our roles. Collaboration and partnership will ensure we stay ahead.
While our financial successes over the past decade have placed us in a stronger position than many institutions to weather the storm, the impacts of COVID-19 on higher education are profound and cannot be underestimated. Without a doubt, there is plenty we need to do to secure our place in this new reality.
Moving forward, we will continue, as you have so ably demonstrated this past three months, to adapt and innovate to meet the changing needs of our students and the communities we serve. Based on our collective response to date, I am confident in our ability to address the challenges we are facing head-on, with courage, care and creativity.
With heartfelt appreciation,
Dr. Craig Stephenson
President and CEO, Centennial College
Update: June 1, 2020, 2:50 PM
Centennial College stands against Anti-Black Racism
A Definition of Anti-Black Racism: ”Anti-Black racism is prejudice, attitudes, beliefs, stereotyping or discrimination that is directed at people of African descent and is rooted in their unique history and experience of enslavement and colonization. Anti-Black racism is deeply embedded in Canadian institutions, policies and practices, to the point that it becomes a part of our systems.”
Dear Centennial Community members,
It is with profound outrage, sadness and disgust that we again observe the most violent expressions of anti-Black racism affecting diverse Black communities in the most harmful way humanly possible. We stand united with members of the community who are experiencing anguish and anger in light of numerous repeated and inhumane acts towards Black communities. We acknowledge that anti-Black racism is deeply embedded throughout all aspects of society and continues to have a daily, detrimental impact on the mental health, wellbeing and personal safety of the Black community, a community integral to who we are as an institution, a community and a nation.
As an academic community grounded in the values of equity and inclusion, we are committed to not only speak out against anti-Black racism, but also to consistently address it by engaging all members of the community to participate in actions that result in positive social change.
To all of our Black employees and students, we are in complete solidarity with you in the fight against individual and systemic anti-Black racism. We denounce all forms of racism and will remain committed to the human rights and safety of all members of the Black community.
As Centennial college community members, what can we do right now to be part of the broader solution? I implore all of you to think deeply about this question – particularly at this notable time in human history and within this month of June where we both honour the historical gains made toward equity for LGBTQs+ and Indigenous peoples, and challenge ourselves to continually dismantle systemic oppression and transform ourselves and the social hierarchies that have endured for too long.
In our anti-Black racism social justice card, created by our Centre of Global Citizenship Education and Inclusion, you can start by doing the following actions:
- Acknowledge How Racism has Shaped You
- Educate Yourself
- Speak Up and Do Your Part
Please take a moment to review our list of resources on anti-Black racism in Canada. Along with information about the history and contemporary context of anti-Black racism in Canada, these resources provide concrete steps on how to challenge anti-Black racism and foster systemic change. We must all engage in this work collectively and consistently.
For those of you who found the images of civil unrest and violence broadcast on television over the past several nights upsetting, please remember that staff have access to our Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) services provided by Morneau Shepell (tel. 1-844-880-9142 or workhealthlife.com) and students have access to CALCS (the Centre for Accessible Learning and Counselling Services)
As Centennial College continues to advance efforts to fight anti-Black racism and support members of the community, we would like to invite you to share suggestions on any possible additional steps that we can take by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This messaging cannot constitute a one-day feature – cursory, transient and superficial. We need to continue to stand in solidarity and say, “No more!” We cannot continue to have young black children robbed of their innocence and questioning why the colour of their skin generates a negative reaction. We cannot have our black family members, friends, colleagues, or indeed any member of the black community fearful for their personal well-being and safety. We cannot continue to live the way we live, without locking arms together and saying, “No more! – Black lives matter.”
With deep respect and sincerity,
Dr. Craig Stephenson
President and CEO, Centennial College