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Wednesday, 27 August 2014 14:56

‘Future-proofing’ at Medicine Hat College going full-tilt

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Jacquie Penner Jacquie Penner MHC

Since Medicine Hat College president/CEO Dr. Denise Henning was hired hired in the spring of 2014, she constantly talks about the college’s need to be innovative and ahead of the curve when it comes to training students for future jobs. In some cases, those jobs are in their infancy or don’t even exist yet. She refers to it as “future proofing.”


Coinciding with that objective, the College’s administration has a mandate of gathering input in trying to find out what’s important to the entire southeast Alberta region and what citizens expect from the college.
Officials are reaching out to everyone for ideas on what they want the college to be through a series of public sessions targeting strategic planning for 2015-2020.
On Aug. 19, there was a session involving Medicine Hat College staff at one of the meeting rooms at the Medicine Hat Exhibition Grounds termed as College Day 2014 where the theme was “MHC at its Best.”
There have also been public consultations in Bow Island and Oyen recently.
One of those heavily involved in this MHC at its Best initiative is Jacquie Penner. Penner is no stranger to the College administration as she was Dean of Business, having started with the college in 1988, until she moved on to dean in 2004 and retired in 2013.
She’s excited with the direction the college is going and considers this consultation extremely important.
“We’re just starting to talk to the outside of the college area, but already there’s a tonne of data,” explains Penner who is excited about the consultations.
“We are a regional college and we consider it tobe part of a community and community means a regional community, all the towns in the southeast. They do have some specific needs.”
Penner is no stranger to innovation and the ties between the college and the regional business community having earned a variety if recognitions including earning a Medicine Hat Chamber of Commerce 2013 Women in Business Inspire Award.
She believes these new innovations for the region could mean research projects, teleconferencing, and new teaching methodologies.
“The (entire southeast region’s) needs are important,” Penner adds.”There could be unique agriculture products, research opportunities ... we have to research new initiatives and colleges need to do that in general. Partnerships with those outside the college are important ... regional stewardship, more priority and devote more resources to those areas.”
In a notice to staff and the public, Henning made it clear the college administration wanted to get ideas for a strategic plan that would guide the institution from 2015-2020. Henning wanted input from college students and staff, regional stakeholders as well as citizens of Medicine Hat and southeast Alberta.
“To effectively establish our next strategic plan, we will take a comprehensive approach that involves re-evaluating our mission and purpose, understanding our environment, and engaging our many stakeholder groups in exciting conversations about our future,” Henning stated. “All staff and faculty will have an opportunity to be involved on multiple occasions. This is your opportunity to work with others and have your voice heard as we shape the future of our college.”
Penner is a firm believer in Henning’s vision.
“We have a new president leading and she talks about future proofing the college,” says Penner. “We need to be thinking ahead. They’re talking about five years down the road. I think we need to be thinking even further than that. I read 40 per cent of the jobs that exist today, didn’t exist in 2004.
“Trying to anticipate what’s going to happen is different, a lot of things are changing. It’s all pretty exciting.”
While the consultation events in Bow Island and Oyen have already taken place, Penner encourages those who couldn’t make it to come to the remaining sessions including at the Brooks Campus Sept. 9, 7:30-9 a.m. and in the Courtyard at the Medicine Hat College on Sept. 10, 7-8:30 p.m.; Sept. 12, 7:30-9 a.m.; Sept. 17, 7:30-9 a.m.; Sept. 18, 7:30-9 a.m.
To register, visit the website and register online at
If you can’t make it, but still want to contribute, fill out the online survey at: SE/?SID=SV_8qaYsW9Npnypibb.

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Ryan Dahlman

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