Update: May 13, 2020, 2:07 PM
Your Good News Bulletin
Centennial PR student named IABC Student of the Year
While the global pandemic has left us worried, shaken and constrained to our homes, Centennial public relations student Mubashira Farooqi is being recognized for spreading positivity and building a community online with those who need it most. As part of her field placement, which began at the end of March, Mubashira is working with The GenWell Project, a human connection movement, to host daily conversations on Instagram Live to offer insight, advice and support to help uplift people quarantined at home. For her remarkable ability to pivot and tackle the secondary pandemic of loneliness and anxiety with a spot-on outreach service, Mubashira has been named the IABC Student of the Year by the Toronto chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators.
“Mubashira is the consummate professional; level-headed, intelligent, thoughtful and diligent,” says Donna Lindell, professor and coordinator of our post-graduate Public Relations and Corporate Communications program. “She has been an enormous asset to the program, and will be to the profession.” In addition to her studies, Mubashira demonstrated leadership outside of her program by volunteering to help organize the Toronto-Danforth federal election local candidates’ debate and provided social media support for the Story Arts Centre’s 25th anniversary event. Mubashira received the Frank and Georgina Cerisano Scholarship for Excellence in Global Citizenship as part of Centennial’s Student Awards Night in March.
Virtual Varsity Athletics Annual Awards Banquet
In step with Centennial, Athletics and Recreation has transformed its annual awards banquet into a winning virtual-reality experience. From April 27 to May 11, the department uniquely presented its 2020 Varsity Athletics Awards by posting the winners on the Colts Instagram, @coltsathletics, as well as Twitter @CentennialColts at 11 am daily, promoting the outstanding athletic and academic accomplishments of our student athletes. Among our winners, General Arts student Nailah Rowe was crowned Female Athlete of the Year, and Canadian Tire Automotive Service Technician Javed Baksh was named Male Athlete of the Year. To see all of our winners, you can visit Centennial Colts Wrap Up Year with 53rd Athletic Banquet. The awards concluded with a Colts in Action tribute video you can watch here.
Help SIER take a stand against the coronavirus
The Centennial College community has come together in amazing ways to fight COVID-19, including donations of N95 masks and respirators, the 3D printing of face shields, designing a portable ventilator, sharing our stocks of staple foods to families in need, ramping up entrepreneurship services offerings, and offering an array of resources to our community. But we can’t stop there! In order to assist local businesses and community organizations during the pandemic, we need to take every opportunity to connect to the right stakeholders. To do this, we have scaled up our Solv. service to respond to critical and time-sensitive requests. Offered through the Office of Strategic Initiatives and External Relations (SIER), Solv. was created to connect industry with opportunities at the College – at no cost. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we connect our internal and external partners with projects, funds and any opportunities that can benefit the community. SIER encourages the College community to share their ideas for how we can continue to assist local businesses so that they can thrive post-pandemic. Please send your ideas, thoughts and recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to hear from you!
NISOD publishes Business faculty’s teaching innovation abstract
Earlier this year Business professor Scott Maybee hosted a workshop on student team-building and peer assessment at Centennial’s Winter Teaching and Learning Symposium. Now comes word that a teaching innovation abstract he wrote as a companion piece to the workshop was selected and published by the U.S.-based National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development. The organization promotes excellence in teaching, learning and leadership in community colleges across North America (Centennial is a supporting college member of NISOD). Scott has developed and taught a variety of diploma and post-graduate business courses in the Ontario college system since 2017. Outside of education, Scott redesigned Costco Canada’s fresh foods production forecasting system and helped pioneer the company’s e-commerce division. Scott’s abstract is timely given the recent shift to online curriculum delivery. You can read the abstract here.
Our Learning Strategist shares her best tips
Joanne Dominico, a Learning Strategist at the Morningside Campus Library, has been busy posting some supportive learning videos on YouTube to help students cope with the stresses of quarantine while pursuing studies online. Check out her newest video clips right here:
Update: May 11, 2020, 11:52 AM
Monday Message from Craig Stephenson, President and CEO
Dear Centennial College Community Members,
I want to thank those who attended the newly launched President’s Listening Tour this past Thursday. Many who attended spoke of their great pride in Centennial and thanked leaders and departments throughout the College for their work in steering this gem of an institution through some challenging times over the past two months. We are still going through challenging times and there are more to come, but we now have a solid record of accomplishment upon which to move forward.
Building upon our reputation as a forerunner in postsecondary education trends and initiatives, we began summer registration 2020 by offering a quality suite of 23 reimagined full-time programs that now run online to students within the GTA and around the globe. Taking this unprecedented route – which required tremendous agility, nerve (we took the decision before IRCC approved the changes to international study permits), new investment and a huge collaborative effort by faculty, administrators and private instructional designers – has opened us up to an important new revenue stream and potentially curtailed significant losses this coming semester. To all those involved in co-designing, developing and delivering the 23 online programs, on behalf of all students and staff, thank you for your truly heroic efforts. Your contributions will unquestionably make a difference to our enrolment numbers and, in turn, to our financial sustainability.
Indeed, there lies our North Star: financial sustainability. To preserve and strengthen the scope and quality of the learner experience, and the jobs underpinning that experience, financial sustainability has to take centre stage and become the North Star we now follow. We have benefited enormously from strong enrolment over the past decade and we will undoubtedly do so again in the not too distant future. However, for the time being, we are in uncharted waters. People still cannot move freely, families may no longer have the funds to support their children’s education, and many have had to stop in their tracks, take stock and focus on other priorities. This is our new reality. In order to move through this crisis, we must continue to adapt and adopt new ways of doing things.
Adapting will mean temporarily setting aside Our Book of Commitments (though when you think about Commitment One, “Revolutionizing Teaching & Learning,” we are now doing that in ways we probably never even imagined) in order to focus on stabilizing the institution. Adapting will mean rethinking our systems and processes, which may begin to look and feel radically different. Adapting may also mean that in order to stay whole and viable, we may need to go down paths and roads never previously contemplated.
Adapting does not mean steering away from our values of respect, inclusion, community and excellence. Adapting does not mean that we recede into silos and fail to involve each other in collaborative and creative ways. Finally, adapting does not mean moving away from the Triple E Strategy (Employment, Enrolment and Empowerment) that I emphasized when I first started the job just over eight months ago. If anything, those three foci will become even more significant to channel priorities and strategies effectively in a post-Covid world.
So what does our future look like from a fiscal perspective?
We are predicting enrolment declines and a deficit budget. We anticipate declines in enrolment as learners understandably choose different options based on their individual assessments of health and safety, learning modalities, and overall economic circumstances. That decline in domestic and international students, constituting the overwhelming majority of our revenue sources, will influence our bottom line, particularly when you consider that around only 17 per cent of Centennial’s annual revenue is derived from government grants. Subsequently, a decline in enrolment will affect our revenue and, in turn, our ability to sustain status quo operations. The extent of such a decline is unknown at this time, but we are working on models to estimate the impact of our deficit. We are also working hard to mitigate this impact through measures such as expanding our online program offerings and sourcing alternative revenues. While our financial successes over the past decade have placed us in a stronger position than many to weather the storm, the impacts of COVID-19 on higher education and Centennial are profound and cannot be underestimated.
We need to balance the tension between minimizing the deficit and investing in the future. To mitigate the projected deficit, a number of cost-cutting measures have been implemented, including a freeze on professional development and most new hires; not scheduling casual part-time contracts, except in extenuating circumstances; deferring all strategic initiatives, except those deemed critical to our recovery; and pausing all non-essential capital projects, with some notable exceptions. In the case of the A-Block expansion, for example, given its importance to future enrolment growth and the significant financial investments to date, the project will move forward, but with modifications to support a hybrid and online learning environment for students.
We will do everything humanly possible to sustain work for our employees. We continue to adapt and pivot to ensure Centennial’s long-term viability and preserve our community. For those whose roles do not translate well to telework, beyond being asked to take vacation and/or lieu time, we have, where possible, reassigned individuals to assist where there are pressure points within the organization.
Every team member is an important contributor to our collective success, and I want to emphasize that we are doing everything in our power to avoid layoffs. We are continually reviewing our overall operations and we may be forced to reconsider our situation in the future based on how rapidly the pandemic is curtailed, the ferocity of a possible second wave, and when Canada and other countries can re-open borders and facilitate people travelling safely again. As the context unfolds, some layoffs may be necessary to maintain the College’s overall stability. If we must go down this road, rest assured, it will be with the utmost respect and care – but again, please know that we are doing everything possible at this stage to avoid disrupting our community.
I am aware that what I am sharing with you, in an intentionally direct and candid manner, may cause anxiety or evoke strong emotions. If that is the case, I do hope you have someone you can turn to and speak with, be it a friend, a relative, a colleague or a member of the Employee Assistance Program (see our EAP website and select Centennial College as the organization). You can also access well-being resources by downloading the WellCan app by Morneau Shepell.
As always, but particularly during this challenging time, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or any other leader at the College with your questions or concerns. We may not have all the answers, but you have my assurance that you will be received with care and a listening ear. Indeed, it is this human connection, being there for each other and supporting each other, however we can, that will, above all else, sustain and support us all during these extraordinary and unparalleled times.
With deep respect and sincerity,
Dr. Craig Stephenson
President and CEO, Centennial College