College of the North Atlantic President Ann Marie Vaughan speaks to the Rotary Club of St. John’s Thursday afternoon.
— Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Ann Marie Vaughan is at the helm of an organization in flux; the College of the North Atlantic just went through restructuring as part of this spring’s provincial budget, and there’s plenty more to come.
Speaking to a Rotary Club of St. John’s luncheon, Vaughan talked about the college’s role in the province.
“We’re looking at the labour market and we’re saying, how can we prepare our students for the careers that exist right now?” Vaughan said. “But we’re also asking an even more important question: how can we prepare students for the careers that will exist in 15 or 30 years from now?”
She acknowledged it has been a tough few months for CNA. The province cut the college’s budget by millions, and moved to privatize adult basic education programming which had been offered through CNA.
Vaughan told reporters that it’s still looking for additional ways to find as much as $4 million in savings.
“We still have $4 million of reductions to make, and that will be related to the staffing side of the operation,” she said. “We are trying to figure out how we do that right.”
She said in addition to the changes the college has made as part of this spring’s provincial budget, it’s involved in an independent review to look at the structure of the college and its leadership conducted by the Hay Group.
“It was very much of an internal consultation process,” she said. “It’s a shift in positions and leadership positions in the college.”
Vaughan stressed that it’s important for CNA to be oriented towards training people for whatever the economy needs.
“We must ensure that our students and our community needs come first. All of this allows CNA to play an important part in Newfoundland and Labrador’s growth,” she said. “Never before in our history have we been so intricately tied to the prosperity of this province.”
Liberal House Leader Andrew Parsons was listening to Vaughan’s speech Thursday; he’s been a persistent critic of some of the college’s actions, and the government’s handling of issues related to CNA.
Parsons said he’s not happy with the budget cuts to the college, and he worries about the effect they’ll have.
Vaughan also took the opportunity Thursday to defend the college’s project in Qatar, which recently signed an extended contract that will ensure continued operation for another three years.
“Our contract, valued at nearly $1 billion, is the largest post-secondary international contract ever awarded to an institution in North America. In fact, most other institutions offer just one program; we offer 34 programs in Qatar,” she said.
Vaughan said that CNA-Qatar was the first campus in th country to conduct classes with male and female students taught together.
“When you think about what’s going on in the world, when you think about that part of the world, that’s fundamentally transformative to a region, and it’s an amazing opportunity to be a part of that,” she said.