June 10, 2010
The first-ever graduates of the Master of Education program offered on campus at Grande Prairie Regional College by the University of Northern British Columbia received their degrees yesterday amidst congratulations and speeches from numerous dignitaries attending the Peace River-Liard Regional Convocation.
The Master of Education Multidisciplinary Leadership degree was conferred on: Christopher Hanam, Dianne McDonald, Dawne Kurtz-McNaught, Michael Matheson, Susan Mills, Sheila Prince, Daren Pullishy, and Kirstin Rozema. This group began Master degree studies in May 2007 when the first class of the collaborative program was offered.
Several members of UNBC faculty and administration were present for the occasion, bringing greetings to the graduates and recognizing the vision and years of hard work which culminated in the establishment of the collaborative program. “The issues facing northern communities are often similar, regardless of the province, and the Master of Education is relevant to the educational leadership issues facing all of our communities,” says Dr. George Iwama, UNBC President. The delegation also included UNBC Chancellor Dr. John MacDonald, who spoke of his upbringing in northern British Columbia and of the importance to the north of educating northerners in their own region.
GPRC Vice-President Susan Bansgrove brought greetings on behalf of the College, commending UNBC’s vision in offering this program in Grande Prairie. “This exceptional graduate program means that regional learners have the opportunity of completing their studies while continuing to work as educators in our communities. Indeed, right here at GPRC there are faculty members who teach in the program, and other faculty members who are enrolled in the program – that speaks very highly of its success! Next year we look forward to celebrating the graduation of those students who are currently working on their research projects. Congratulations to each of the graduates!”
The program was designed to benefit educators already in the workplace in our region, with a focus on Educational Leadership for school administrators and teacher leaders. Recognizing the unique needs of educators and students in northern and rural community, this Master’s program is delivered on weekends to accommodate working professionals, and takes approximately three years to complete.
Cooperation between the two institutions began in 2005 with a memorandum of understanding. The courses in the program are jointly taught by UNBC faculty and GPRC faculty; students graduate with a UNBC degree. Plans are now underway for the intake of a second cohort to begin in the coming academic year.
Dr. Scott McAlpine, former GPRC Dean and now President of Douglas College in the BC lower mainland, who was integral to the establishment of this collaborative program at GPRC, sent his greetings to the Convocation. “It is truly a privilege to know that these efforts have, indeed, increased the accessibility to post-secondary education for the peoples of the North,” stated McAlpine. “May each of you, in the fulfillment of your calling use the knowledge and skills gained in this program toward the betterment of society and humanity. Congratulations!”
Some 200 guests were present to celebrate the degree recipients, who are from school districts throughout the Peace region.