Some Take-Aways …

March 15, 2017 • Written by

Lots of you have been part of our process to develop a complete understanding of all the functions currently required for our RRC academic departments – including CE portfolios and Regional Campuses – to run. Based on focus groups and information from the previous reviews (2010 and 2012), responsibilities were compiled in categories: Academic, Administrative / Operational, Strategic, Leadership, Supervision and Other.

The first group to work with that information was the Academic Research and Leaders Forum (ARLF), 17 January. We appreciated the time on their agenda and the Deans, Directors, Chairs, Program Managers and Regional Managers along with facilitators, Lori Grandmont, Tracy Cappello, Aileen Nadjuch and Arnold Boldt, did great work within a tight time constraint.

Through this work, a few key take-aways:

  • There is variation amongst academic departments, CE portfolios and Regional Campuses functions based on many factors: facility management, safety responsibilities, numbers and types of programs, numbers of direct reports to name a few.
  • Many processes used by the college are “owned” by enabling functions: IT, HR, Marketing, Student Services and others.
  • Processes and controls have contributed to significantly increased workloads in the academic areas.
  • Aspects of many processes have been downloaded to the academic area and seem to be designed for the “owner”: the names are often not intuitive, for instance.
  • Value could be added by designing processes to support the end-user and the college’s primary purpose.
  • Value could be created by shifting responsibility for many administrative functions to other roles.
  • Clarity amongst roles in the departments needs to be improved.

Here’s the spreadsheet we started with, and the one that we created following this session.


Following this work, the academic coordinators, program facilitators and administrative assistants were invited to continue the mapping of our current state. Check the next blog …

Until soon,

Project Charter

February 24, 2017 • Written by

Ok, some of the AGOR documents. I’ve been meaning to get to this for some time and struggling to understand how all the pieces fit together between the blog and SharePoint and, somehow, it seems to take a while to sort it all out. Thank you for your patience.

The Project Charter. The project charter was developed to outline the purpose, key stakeholders, goals, objectives, scope, deliverables, roles, responsibilities and milestones. So far, we have shifted a couple of milestones. The executive sponsors, Christine Watson, Vice President, Academic and Debbie Frankel, Vice President, Finance and the Project Leads, Arnold Boldt, Executive Director, Academic and Lori Grandmont, Chief Human Resource Office, signed the charter 20 January 2017.

In consultations and conversations, we have openly talked about the opportunities through the Academic Governance and Organizational Review as well as some of the challenges and constraints. Some of those constraints, the timeline, for instance, has meant that the consultation work primarily involves each group building on the previous group’s work. More on that – and documents – in the next blog.


Touching Base…

February 24, 2017 • Written by

As I’ve been out meeting with many of the Red River College community face-to-face, there’s so much I’m learning about this institution and the people who make it what it is.

  • Tremendous dedication and passion to educate students and prepare them to be successful in their chosen fields
  • Considerable frustration with processes and systems that don’t always support the college’s primary purpose: to educate students and prepare them to be successful
  • Willingness to help. The number of people that connected with me with offers of help, interest in getting involved and suggestions, confirms the commitment and dedication to what we do.

Thanks for this and more very soon. Looking forward to hearing from you,



January 31, 2017 • Written by

How will be working? How will the work of AGOR be done? This is one of the most frequent questions I am asked.
We are trying to be transparent. We are trying to involve the people who need to be involved. We are trying to do this in a very tight timeframe. We don’t have all the answers but we know that there are improvements that can be made. The two reports, from 2010 and 2012, identified a number of themes and issues, providing recommendations for changes. Both reviews fell short on implementation.
We aren’t going to change everything overnight and we aren’t going to improve academic processes and re-engineer systems, change structure – components of organizational design – alone. Sometimes I think of organizational change as a relationship. You’ve built things a certain way for 10 or 15 years and you recognize some things aren’t working for where you find yourself now. Of course, the change is uncomfortable. Most uncomfortable can be asking what we are doing that isn’t working for others. Change tends to happen incrementally. That’s the way we need to think about AGOR too. What can we tackle first? What’s most important to tackle? How can we work together to do that?
I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,

Your commitment to change: part 2

January 23, 2017 • Written by

I’ve loved the enthusiasm and the skepticism I’ve encountered in people at RRC so far regarding AGOR. I can honestly say that no one I’ve met with is not invested or unengaged. Skeptical? Yes. Uncertain? Yes. Disenchanted? Yes. Certain that they know the solution? Yes, even a few of those. Caring about delivering the best education and support they can for people who come to RRC to transform their lives? Absolutely.

What’s your commitment to change? We think we want change, we read about change, we theorize and conceptualize and design processes about change. But when the rubber hits the road, what are we willing to commit?

I’ve met with people who are jumping through hoops to ensure that students get what they need: another course because life got in the way, meeting a registration or extension deadline or negotiating, costing and writing up another contract because it will give students exposure to new technology or machinery. So many people who are putting in far more time and effort on the front line because they care what happens to these people who have made the commitment to change their lives.

I understand the responses I’m receiving as we talk about AGOR. We have a complex and challenging task ahead of us. And, much as we may want to sit out and observe or sit back and comment upon, every one of us at RRC needs to step up. To paraphrase former President Obama throughout his presidency, the most important office in a democracy is that of citizen. We all have to participate in the change.

If we haven’t yet connected, I’m looking forward to meeting you. Call or email

Until next time,

What’s your commitment to change?

January 17, 2017 • Written by

Happy new year! Given that Chinese, Vietnamese, Hindu, Mongolian, Jewish and a few other new years are yet to arrive, I’m still invoking wishes for us all that 2017 is auspicious and promising. And, of course, the time of new year’s resolutions or change.

It’s been a blur of meeting people at RRC over the last few months, first as a program manager in Applied Arts & Communications and, now, as Project Manager for the Academic Governance and Organizational Review (AGOR). So, a bit about me as people are wondering who I am and how I fit in this project.

The Applied Arts & Communications is a fantastic portfolio and a great fit for me – crossing left brain and right brain beautifully: Human Resource Management Certificate to Apparel Design to culinary workshops for kids and adults. I have an undergrad in English Literature and Chemistry and, when I had to plead my case for graduation to the Deans of Science and the Arts, I struggled to understand why being interested and capable in two “domains” was even an issue.

This constructed duality has been a theme in my life: I’m usually the one asking “why?” Why is it set up this way? Why aren’t we making it seamless to traverse these fields? Why are we so invested in seeing things from one – usually our own – perspective? How do we learn to live with the discomfort of asking “what do you really need?” So Project Manager for AGOR is a good fit too.

I’d love to hear some of your opinions on “why” and how you are interested in helping move things forward. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Until soon,

Update on Academic Governance and Organizational Review

December 6, 2016 • Written by

We are pleased to provide an important update regarding the Academic Governance and Organizational Review that is now underway at Red River College.

When we announced the Review, we noted that it would be supported by a Project Manager. As Executive Sponsors of the Review, we are pleased to announce that Angela Chotka has been hired as the project manager, effective December 5. Angela brings more than 20 years of education and experience with organizational structural reviews and is a Certified Professional Facilitator. Angela is familiar with RRC, having recently worked as the program manager for SCE Applied Arts and Communications. She can be contacted at:

In addition to hiring the project manager, the Review’s Steering Committee has been engaged in a number of activities, including reviewing previous studies, early consultation material and other feedback from the College’s academic leadership, and preparing the Project Charter that will guide the process moving forward. It is the Steering Committee’s intention to present the Project Charter and engage the Review’s key constituency groups (deans, chairs, coordinators and administrative assistants) prior to the December holiday break.

As you know, the College began the Academic Governance and Organizational Review in order to assist RRC in the implementation of its new five-year Strategic Plan and Academic and Research Plan. The Review recognizes that RRC needs to break down organizational barriers to success, in order to become more agile and nimble as an institution. We need to create a structure that empowers leaders at all levels and provides the necessary authority and resources to those key positions that are best able to make decisions in real time.

Angela will be working with the Review’s Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Arnold Boldt (Executive Director, Academic) and Lori Grandmont (Chief Human Resources Officer), and includes Aileen Najduch (Executive Director, Community & Student Services), Tracy Cappello (Executive Director, Finance & Campus Services), Riva Harrison (Executive Director, Strategy & Communications), and Darka Burczynski (Executive Assistant to ED, Academic).

We are looking forward to continuing to work with you on the Academic Governance and Organizational Review. We will be setting up a microsite and Sharepoint site very soon to provide you with regular updates and progress reports as the Review moves forward. If you have any questions or comments regarding the Review, please send them to Angela as the main point of contact starting December 5, 2016.

Warm regards,

Dr. Christine Watson
Vice President, Academic

Debbie Frankel
Vice President, Finance & Administration

Strategic Priority – Indigenous Achievement

July 16, 2016 • Written by

img6Red River College’s Strategic Plan 2012 – 2015 focused on four themes: Fuel Manitoba’s economic growth and community development, Lead Indigenous Achievement, Strengthen Student Achievement and Improve the College’s triple bottom line: People, Planet and Profits. This was an ambitious plan with nine strategic initiatives and 34 strategic actions.

Significant work was done over the Strategic Plan’s three-year timeframe that resulted in many milestones including a Strategic Enrolment Plan and the Development of College-Wide Learning Outcomes (CWLO).

Red River College (RRC) has committed historically, presently and in the future, to strategies and actions that increase not only Indigenous participation in post-secondary education but also Indigenous achievement and success. Upon hiring the current Dean in the School of Indigenous Education, there has  been a commitment to implement processes to support Indigenous Achievement across the College.

Indigenous Achievement was identified as an important initiative that needed further focus and action. This initiative was selected as the College’s priority for 2016 and is the focus until a new Strategic Plan is developed. The initiative was reframed as a result of several local and national imperatives that provide further impetus to the direction and need for Red River Colleges’ commitment to the continued advancement of Indigenous achievement.

These include the “Calls to Action” issued by the National Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Manitoba Post-Secondary Education Strategy, the Colleges and Institutes of Canada (CICan) protocol and the Manitoba Collaborative Indigenous Education Blueprint signed in December 2015. Collectively, these initiatives are used to guide Indigenous Achievement for RRC.

Read More →

Your Feedback Matters!

May 1, 2016 • Written by

Open CafeYour Feedback Matters!

An important part of the Strategic Plan development is listening to our College community.  The energy from the feedback sessions at the Open Cafés has highlighted the enthusiasm for what we can do to adapt and change to move the College forward. The Open Cafés provided the opportunity to hear not only strategic related ideas but also valuable operational related suggestions. These themes and initiatives have been put together in a Discussion Document that focuses on the strategic level feedback we have heard from all of the conversations thus far.

The next stage of the consultation process is to make sure our plan is achievable, results oriented and sized to our organization.  Consultation sessions with staff and faculty will be held in May.

We invite you to join the conversation and help provide the feedback that will be used in the final selection of the initiatives within the Strategic Plan 2016-2021.

BYOD bring your electronic devices (smartphone, laptop, tablet) with you to vote!

Thursday, May 26
Green Lecture Theatre – Notre Dame Campus (Capacity – 60)
11:-00 – 12:30
Bring your lunch – light refreshments will be provided

Friday, May 27
eTV Studio – Notre Dame Campus (Physical Capacity – 36)
*Live Streaming
1:00 – 2:30

Tuesday, May 31
P107 – The Roblin Centre  (Capacity – 140)
10:00 – 11:30

RRC’s new Strategic Plan

April 1, 2016 • Written by

We are actively engaged in the development of our new strategic plan 2016 – 2021. This plan will set the direction of the College for next five years with a forward thinking focus. This plan will be completed and ready for implementation in the fall of 2016.

The vision of where we are headed and what our direction will be is guided by many factors. One critical voice is our College community. We have heard your voice through our “Open Cafés” and appreciate your forward thinking contributions to guide our future direction.

The themes at the Open Cafés were developed from an analysis of a wide variety of feedback including the Manitoba Business Leaders Index, the Academic Plan internal and external consultation, reflection on the most recent State of the Province address, Alex Usher’s Key Challenges for RRC paper, the Global Philanthropic Campaign Study, President’s Council Emerging Issues, PC’s Critical Success Factors, Manitoba’s Post-Secondary Strategy, Board of Governor’s feedback, previous Strategic Plan themes, the International Plan and the Indigenous Achievement Framework.

Based on this feedback, the following themes were created:

Open CafeOpen Cafés were hosted at our many campus locations throughout Manitoba and posed the question to you: “What is the one thing we can do to make a difference for this theme over the next five years that would have the greatest impact in helping to achieve our vision?” Through this process we have gathered valuable feedback that will be used to shape the direction of our College. The data gathered has been classified into the following five categories: Academic, Student Supports, Infrastructure, Stakeholder, Staff/HR and Planning. Data points were sub classified as follows:

Themes Academic Student Supports Infrast-
Staff Planning  Total
Student 209 38 14 21 18 38 338
Indigenous 143 143 26 51 30 53 446
Partnerships 57 7 17 148 15 124 368
Sustain 98 10 43 51 31 101 334
Missing 49 7 28 11 34 59 188
Grand Total 556 205 128 282 128 375 1674

Feedback from each of the categories has been summarized below to provide an overview of the types of comments we have received:

  • Curriculum – Curriculum, courses, learning outcomes, CWLO, teaching methods, blended learning and program quality.
  • Readiness – Skills and abilities of incoming students (sequential and non-sequential), as well as programs that attempt to bridge this gap (e.g. Access programs).
  • Recruitment / Admission – Ability to recruit students and specific recruitment strategies, accessibility, and program fit.
  • Academic Model – College-wide changes, program creation, program delivery (e.g. community based, distance, online), credentials, scheduling, and course based enrolment.
Student Supports
  • Student Supports – Academic supports, general mention of student supports, advising, mentorship, mental health, and counseling.
  • Indigenous Student Supports – Indigenous students supports, Elders, advising, supports related to Access programs/students, financial, spiritual wellness, cultural supports.
  • International/ESL Supports – Language supports and assessments, globalization, and international student supports.
  • Financial – Awards, bursaries, affordability.
  • Child Care – Access to child care, affordability, number of spaces.
Materials and Infrastructure
  • Technology – ITS, LEARN, Raiser’s Edge, CRM, IT network, technology.
  • Campus/classrooms – classrooms and other spaces, electrical and other systems, bricks and mortar, campus plan, space management.
  • Environmental Sustainability – environmental practices, recycling, sustainable materials.
  • Residence/Housing – residence and housing.
  • Open CafeRRC internal – Relationship between RRC departments/division, breaking down silos, internal working relationships, sharing of information.
  • MB Government/High Schools – K-12, Adult Learning Division (ALD), Manitoba government.
  • Industry – employers, industry, workforce, on the job learning, business leaders.
  • Alumni – alumni.
  • Community – First Nations communities, community (general).
  • International – international education, specific ethnic communities.
  • Other post-secondary – Other PSE, MITT, University.
  • Applied Research – applied research.
  • Engagement – Trust, engagement, morale.
  • Culture/Diversity – respect for diversity, persons with disabilities, decolonization.
  • Professional Development – faculty development, staff development, ability to participate in training, lifelong learning.
  • Staffing – succession planning, performance management, accountability, responsibility, staff sustainability.
  • Process – Master plan, college-wide processes/initiatives (e.g. CWLO, SEI), change management, process for organization partnerships, LEAN, strategy, SEM, vision, goals.
  • Communication and Marketing – sharing knowledge, marketing, promoting successes, communicating.
  • Financial – financial sustainability, fund raising, tuition.
  • Research/Data – survey, data, measurement, evidence, tracking, analysis, needs, trends, definitions, research.