Rob MacIsaac has an ambitious plan for the future of Mohawk College.
The Mohawk College president talked about his administration's ideas for what comes next in an interview at the downtown office of CBC Hamilton. You can see the full interview on video here.
The college formulated its call to arms after the province said it was time to overhaul post-secondary education in Ontario.
The province asked Ontario's post secondaries to think big and to think future.
"The province, in looking at post-secondary in Ontario, is sensing it’s a sector that’s ripe for reform," MacIsaac told CBC Hamilton.
"Since the advent of the colleges there hasn’t been any major transformation in post-secondary, but the world has been changing big-time," he said.
Queen's Park says we spend too much for too little and has challenged educational institutions to step up and plan for a future that would slow the growth in spending on education.
The province has proposed a 2 per cent increase over the next three years.
At the same time the province asked each institution to identify a mandate and establish clear objectives through three self-identified priorities.
So the administration at Hamilton's 46-year-old community college drafted its vision for the future.
That future would place Mohawk in the forefront of post-secondary education in the province by:
* Leading in health and technology training
* Excelling in applied research
* Transforming lives through access to a college education
"We’re kind of like this high-performance machine that the province hasn’t taken out of first gear. I think there’s so much more we could be doing," MacIsaac said.
The Mohawk plan includes the following:
1. Designate Mohawk as Ontario’s first specialized Institute of Health and Technology. That initiative would build on the strength of Mohawk's programs and partnerships, MacIsaac said, and become the Mohawk Institute of Health and Technology.
2. Be the regional provider of health and technology training for Peel, Halton, Hamilton, Brant and Niagara regions. MacIsaac believes Mohawk can "expand our role beyond our historic strengths, beyond the city of Hamilton to include Halton and Peel."
3. Offer Health and Technology apprenticeship, certificate, diploma and new three-year degree programs (currently don’t offer degrees). "Colleges are quite competent to be offering three year degrees to our students," MacIsaac said.
4. Open a downtown centre for disengaged youth similar to one in Pittsburgh. MacIsaac said the idea is to find a way to lure youth back into educational institutions.
"We’ve been trying very hard for a long, long time to reach out to students who wouldn’t normally come to college or attend post-secondary."
He said the future, in part, depends on how successful society is at engaging the disengaged.
"In our economy, our city, this province, we can’t afford to leave anybody behind. The great challenge of post-secondary education going forward is going to be how to engage these people who are disengaged."
Mohawk ended up in Pittsburgh after an intense search for ideas on how to provide street level education.
The idea for a downtown centre is still in its infancy but MacIsaac said the college recognizes not everyone who is capable can fit in a traditional school setting.
"It’s important to fly your flag and have a storefront in close proximity to the student’s you’re trying to reach out to – because they don’t always feel comfortable on your main campus.
You can read more about Mohawk's submission and government correspondence here.