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New RRC president hits the ground running, with an eye to the future

September 3, 2020

Fred Meier has spent his first few weeks as Red River College’s president and CEO focused on making connections and building momentum towards a fall academic term unlike any other in the College’s 82-year history.

Adjusting to any new leadership role can be challenging enough. But taking the reins during a time of global upheaval and transformation amped up the need for Meier to make every minute count.

“I arrived on day one knowing I was joining an institution that has shaped the lives of many Manitobans and contributed a great deal to our province’s economy,” he says. “What I saw right away was a community of people who have innovated and adapted unbelievably fast to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to keep our students learning.”

Knowing how deeply students and industry partners depend on RRC for skilled training, workforce needs and applied research, Meier invited the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training, on a tour of RRC’s Notre Dame Campus to highlight how the College has prepared its facilities to safely welcome back students for hands-on learning.

“The Minister told me he was impressed by the work we’ve done. I was impressed, too, by the ingenuity of our staff and students and their dedication to moving forward safely.”

Meier says that his leadership vision places a heavy premium on engaging employees, and on ensuring faculty and staff are listened to, valued and supported in their work.

At the end of August, he unveiled the College’s new online Staff Forum, a website designed for employees by employees to connect them with information, resources and collaboration tools quickly and easily.

“Strong internal communication and collaboration are the bedrock of our success as an organization. While this has always been true, the disruptions to our business by COVID-19 make employee engagement a higher priority than ever. Adopting new tools, technologies and strategies to share and learn from one another will continue to be near the top of my list.” Read More →

RRC welcomes new Vice-President, Finance and Administration

August 18, 2020

Red River College is excited to announce that Lynn Zapshala-Kelln has been hired as the institution’s next Vice-President, Finance and Administration.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Lynn to our team,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “Her expertise and extensive background in Manitoba’s post-secondary system and our province’s public sector will strengthen Red River College’s capacity to keep moving forward in a time of change, and help us continue to do what we do best — produce job-ready grads to help businesses innovate and stay competitive in our new economy.”

Zapshala-Kelln joins the College after holding the Vice-President (Administration) role at the University of Manitoba, where she provided leadership in all administrative areas, including financial, business and investment interests, ancillary services, security, fair practices and legal affairs, physical plant and property, risk management, human resources (including labour relations) and information systems and technology services.

At RRC, she will oversee all current aspects of the finance and administration portfolio, including finance and campus services, capital projects, campus planning and sustainability. She will work directly with the College’s Chief Information Officer and Executive Director, Finance and Campus Services.

“I am a collaborative leader and I look forward to getting to know my team, building on RRC’s successes, and overcoming our challenges as we continue to face this pandemic,” says Zapshala-Kelln.  “Red River College has done a tremendous job modernizing their systems to better support our employees and our students. I look forward to building on that success so we can continue to support the academic mission of the College to ensure that our people — and most importantly, our students — continue to shine.”

Zapshala-Kelln previously served in the senior ranks of the Province of Manitoba’s civil service for almost two decades, and has extensive board experience. A Chartered Professional Accountant, she holds a Bachelor of Administration degree from the University of Regina.

She will start her new role at RRC on Tue., Sept. 8.

Safety top priority as College prepares for students, staff to return to campuses

August 5, 2020

With the Fall 2020 academic term just around the corner, Red River College offered an on-campus preview today of what students can expect when they return to school next month.

Attended by the Hon. Ralph Eichler, Minister of Economic Development and Training, today’s media tour showcased a number of applied learning activities currently taking place on the Notre Dame Campus, and highlighted new measures the College is taking to protect the safety of an increasing number of students and staff coming back to school.

RRC President Fred Meier says the College’s response to COVID-19 — and the quick pivot to online and blended learning this past spring — has positioned RRC to continue to meet industry needs and help drive Manitoba’s economic recovery.

“COVID-19 has handed our province an unprecedented set of challenges to overcome. I continue to be impressed by how organizations across all sectors have found innovative ways to meet those challenges head-on,” says Eichler (shown above, at left). “Red River College adapted quickly to support its students, made valuable contributions to our community efforts against COVID-19, and — thanks to hard work — prepared itself to play a vital role in Manitoba’s economic recovery.”

The tour provided a look at the catch-up, hands-on training currently underway at RRC’s Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, along with its Indigenous Culinary Skills, Dentistry and level four Carpentry programs, and a tour and demonstration by students in the new Medical Radiologic Technology lab.

While the majority of catch-up training is happening at the Notre Dame Campus, Culinary Arts students are equally busy at the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute. Earlier this summer, a number of the College’s regional campuses welcomed students back to complete hands-on learning to wrap up their studies, as well.

“Although we’ve been working incredibly hard since March to deliver our programs online, we’re very excited to have people moving through our halls, our labs, our offices and classrooms again,” says Meier (shown above, at right). “As Manitobans, we have managed the impacts of COVID-19 better than many other regions, and that — along with the tremendous leadership and hard work of our employees — has made it possible for us to continue preparing students for careers in industries that will need their knowledge and skills more than ever.” Read More →

C.P. Loewen Family Foundation donates $50,000 to help southeast Manitoba students affected by COVID-19

June 17, 2020

John Loewen, executive director, C.P. Loewen Family FoundationRed River College students in Manitoba’s southeast region who have been financially impacted by COVID-19 can apply for relief, thanks to a $50,000 donation from the C.P. Loewen Family Foundation.

The College will award 50 bursaries, valued at $1,000 each, to students living in southeast Manitoba who complete a general scholarship application form and include a one-page statement outlining financial hardships they’ve faced due to the pandemic.

“This contribution from the Loewen Foundation will have a tremendous impact,” says interim RRC President Dr. Christine Watson. “We know that students have been struggling, and receiving this bursary could make the difference in someone’s decision to continue with their studies in the next term.”

“Red River College is thankful for the donors, staff, alumni and community members that have stepped up over the last few months to ensure our impacted students receive the relief they need.”

John Loewen, executive director of the Foundation, says the decision to donate was easy, and that he knows the support will have an immediate impact on students’ lives, allowing them to focus on their goals in education and training.

“If you consider a foundation and endowment as a rainy-day fund, well, it’s raining right now,” says Loewen (shown above). “We were very impressed with how quickly the College moved to support its students, and looked to past donors who could redirect their support.” Read More →

Award-winning flavours and fava on the menu at Prairie Research Kitchen

June 15, 2020

Red River College’s Prairie Research Kitchen has won the Canadian Association of Research Administrators’ (CARA) Research Partnership Award, for its ongoing work with Manitoba food start-up Prairie Fava.

The award ceremony was originally scheduled to take place at CARA’s annual conference in Vancouver last month, though the conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Prairie Fava has been a great partner of ours since the beginning. Working with them has showcased our ability to bring a chef’s experience and perspective to applied research,” says Mavis McRae, Director of the Prairie Research Kitchen, which is RRC’s newest federally funded Technology Access Centre.

“We’re so grateful for their support, and thankful to have grown alongside each other over the years. It’s an honour to be recognized for this mutually beneficial relationship.”

Hailey and Cale Jefferies co-founded Prairie Fava in 2015 as a way to tie their family seed business, Jefferies Seeds, into a new venture that showcased the duo’s passion for healthy food with their existing knowledge and experience in agriculture. Prairie Fava was recently awarded the Start-Up of the Year Award at the 2019 Manitoba Chambers of Commerce Business Awards.

“I can’t emphasize enough how valuable the research and development work done by the Prairie Research Kitchen team is for a small company like ours,” says Hailey Jefferies (shown above), the company’s President. “They provide great expertise while being cost effective. We have appreciated being able to leverage the creative talents of RRC students to do both market research and great food photography. We have not been able to find this kind of diverse food research elsewhere.” Read More →

College to celebrate graduates with virtual convocation

June 11, 2020

Red River College will celebrate its 2020 graduates by hosting a virtual convocation. Graduates, along with their friends and families, can watch this special event on Tuesday, June 30 at 1 p.m., by visiting rrc.ca/convocation.

“Convocation is an important milestone for our students and the College community as a whole. The time and energy invested in acquiring a credential is worth celebrating,” says RRC’s interim President, Dr. Christine Watson. “We want to honour and acknowledge the accomplishments of our students and the support of their network. Even though it is not possible to cross the stage as we typically do, we’re excited about exploring a new way to recognize the hard work of our graduates.”

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the College made the difficult decision to postpone convocation ceremonies that were originally planned to occur in June. Even though official ceremonies have been postponed, eligible students will still graduate with a Red River College degree, diploma or certificate.

“Our graduates are going to achieve great things. While this celebration will look a little different than our usual ones, it was important to find a way to honour and celebrate our students,” says Anna Hughes, Director, Enrolment Services and Registrar.

The virtual celebration will feature messages from community leaders, dignitaries, alumni and senior leadership, and will honour outstanding achievements and special award recipients. It does not replace in-person convocation ceremonies, which will be rescheduled for a later time.

A convocation package including students’ parchments and other important pieces of information will be mailed to their home addresses in advance of the ceremony. Graduates are encouraged to watch the virtual celebration, wear their new RRC alumni pin, and share photos of their individual celebration by tagging @redrivercollege and #rrcalumni on social media. Read More →

Fall 2020 term to be delivered online

May 20, 2020

Red River College announced today that academic programs and services for the Fall 2020 term will be delivered online. This cautious but agile approach will allow RRC to continue providing high-quality educations to students, while preparing graduates to help Manitoba’s economy emerge from the current global pandemic.

“I remain incredibly grateful to our faculty, staff and students as they adjust to our new way of teaching and learning,” says interim President Dr. Christine Watson. “As we prepare for the fall term, our approach will put the safety of our staff and students first, while providing meaningful, high-quality learning experiences for students at every step of their academic journeys.”

While the College is focused on online delivery for the fall, planning is also underway to quickly pivot should public health directives change, to allow for the delivery of some courses on campus. Priority will be given to hands-on learning that was delayed due to the pandemic, in order to help students who are close to graduating get caught up and complete their programs.

“Over the past few months, we’ve learned a great deal from our experiences transitioning to online program delivery,” says Aileen Najduch, acting Vice-President, Academic. “We’re building on that foundation to ensure Red River College continues arming our graduates with the skills, knowledge and experiences they need to help support our partners in industry and rebuild our economy.

“Online learning will help prepare our graduates for a new age of disruption by providing them with the tools they need to succeed in industry and in workplaces that are undergoing a digital transformation.” Read More →

College hires Fred Meier as next President and CEO

May 5, 2020

Photo portrait of Fred MeierRed River College’s Board of Governors has announced that longtime public servant Fred Meier will serve as RRC’s next President and CEO, effective July 6, 2020.

Following a nation-wide search led by MNP and guided by the Board’s selection committee — one that captured input from staff, students, faculty and industry — the unanimous decision was made to hire Meier for the organization’s top role.

“Fred brings a tremendous amount of senior leadership experience to the role,” says Board chair Loren Cisyk. “A successful College relies on strong leadership and we look forward to how Fred’s experience, leading at a high-level, will translate into new opportunities for our students and our province.”

Meier is a proud Manitoban who brings considerable senior leadership experience to the new role. In his current position as cabinet secretary and clerk of the province’s Executive Council, he has championed measures towards building a positive and inclusive culture, with a focus on employee engagement that better supports innovation and collaboration to the benefit of all Manitobans.

“Red River College is a highly respected organization with a proud history and an incredible future. I am excited to serve in this new role,” says Meier (shown, at left). “I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside such talented people, whose passion and dedication continue to move this College forward. I’m extremely honoured to join such an important Manitoba institution at a time when it will play an important role in rebuilding our economy.”

While the search was underway, the Board appointed Dr. Christine Watson, RRC’s Vice-president, Academic, as interim president and CEO. Watson led the College through its transition to alternative delivery models in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We can’t thank Christine enough for her leadership during this time,” says Cisyk. “No one expected the kind of disruption to our lives that COVID-19 would bring. Her hard work — and that of the Senior Leadership Team — ensured the College was able to continue to operate during this pandemic, and that our students and faculty were supported. This work was essential to our operations, and as Manitoba begins to re-open its economy, we know that Red River College will be instrumental in rebuilding it.” Read More →

More supports needed for RRC students impacted by COVID-19

April 21, 2020

Red River College is appealing to its donor community, alumni and partners to help provide additional funding for students who have been financially impacted by COVID-19.

The RRC COVID-19 Emergency Student Support Fund, launched April 9 and nearing $140,000 in donations, has received an overwhelming number of applicants and can’t meet the needs of all those who have applied.

“Since opening up this fund to our students last week, we’ve seen numerous applications come in showcasing how dire the need is to support our students through this pandemic,” says Dr. Christine Watson, the College’s interim President and CEO.

“The recent support we’ve received from the RRC Students’ Association and from our staff and donors will allow us to transfer vital funds to the deserving many who need our help.”

The Students’ Association (RRCSA) pitched in $20,000 to help fellow students struggling with financial hardships.

“Supporting our students is our highest priority and this a tangible way we can do that,” says Josh Roopchand, Students’ Association president (shown above, second from left, with other members of the RRCSA executive last November). “We are pleased to join this effort and thank all the partners for responding so quickly to students in need.”​

The donation is just one example of the RRCSA’s commitment to supporting students. A long-time partner of the College, the groups funds a number of bursaries and awards. In recent years, they also contributed $200,000 to the student-run coffee shop at RRC’s Skilled Trades and Technology Centre, as well as $50,000 to the Paterson GlobalFoods Institute at the College’s Exchange District Campus. Read More →

College launches emergency support fund to help students impacted by COVID-19

April 9, 2020

Red River College is launching a COVID-19 Emergency Student Support Fund to help students who require extra financial assistance as a result of the global pandemic.

The new fund has been kickstarted by donations from the Princess Auto Foundation, Powerland Computers and the Women in Trades Fund. It is available to students who require support for costs such as food, housing and internet access for those who do not have a connection, as well as other financial hardships as a result of COVID-19.

“One of the many domino effects of COVID-19 has been students losing part-time jobs or dealing with unexpected financial stress due to the ever-changing circumstances,” says Dr. Christine Watson, interim President and CEO of RRC. “We want to do everything possible to support our students so they can complete their studies and lessen their worries about food or rent.”

The Princess Auto Foundation, which has a long history of supporting RRC students, donated $50,000 to the fund.

“We know that support for students goes a long way in ensuring success,” says Ken Larson, President and CEO of Princess Auto Ltd. “Like many Manitoba companies, we rely on RRC grads to help drive our workforce. We will continue to need RRC grads when the economic turmoil recedes and our province begins the important work of rebuilding our economy.”

The sentiments were echoed by leaders at Powerland Computers, which contributed $10,000.

“We’re fortunate to be in a situation where we can offer support to students who may be struggling during this unprecedented time,” says Ashley Penner, CEO of Powerland Computers. “Red River College is a strong partner, and an important contributor to Manitoba’s IT and technology sectors. We are proud to be able to help in any way we can.” Read More →