Students met with Dangerfield to discuss how CapU could change for the better
Greta Kooy // Campus Life Editor
Photo c/o Cheryl Rossi
Since assuming the role of president and vice-chancellor of Capilano University in October 2016, Paul Dangerfield has been working hard to establish effective dialogue amongst CapU’s immediate and extended community.
Dangerfield spoke in April about his plans to create more programs at the school and tackle the issue of housing, which would help to increase enrolment and participation. His first steps, however, focus on fostering a connection with students and faculty, which he hopes will get the ball rolling in addressing some of the bigger-picture issues faced by CapU.
Students had the opportunity to meet with Dangerfield in a more personal setting on Oct. 31. “It’s the first step in what I’m hoping is going to be a focused look at what the students are looking for and what they view will contribute to their success,” he said.
Small class sizes and experienced faculty members are among the positive traits students provided feedback on, as well as the campus’ prime location. While these are important features, Dangerfield honed in on what can be improved. He asked students specifically about what they felt needed to be changed. The feedback they provided covered amenities and study spaces as well as better health and wellness spaces. He also noted that employment opportunities directly on campus are a possibility in the future.
Other pressing issues for CapU students include housing, transportation to and from the campus and finances. To address students’ financial needs, the school is working with the alumni to increase funding for scholarships and bursaries that can be provided to students over the next five years.
“We know that there are a number of barriers for students to succeed,” he said, adding that housing, in particular, is a barrier to student success. “So we are moving forward very aggressively on a housing strategy and a campus master plan that will see us with an addition to the 200 plus residents that we have down at Dollarton. My goal is that every first-year student would have housing on campus.”
The off-campus student residences are a new feature to CapU, and although Dangerfield did not speak with any students who live at the residences on Oct. 31, he does plan to host similar meetings for those students living at 2420 Dollarton Highway in the future. On campus, Dangerfield hopes to centralize resources and make them more accessible to students. A Student Success Centre or Learning Commons located in or near the library would give students the opportunity to address their needs or concerns, such as academic or career planning advice and peer mentoring.
To meet many of these needs, physical changes to the campus are inevitable. CapU sits on 34 acres of land, although much of that space is currently taken up by parking lots. “We have to do it carefully,” said Dangerfield, “and so we brought in an excellent company called Dialog who are going to help us plan that out.” The community and environment-minded design firm, Dialog, has worked with other schools in Canada, including UBC and the University of Alberta. Dangerfield hopes that the firm will ensure CapU makes the best use of the space they have available while maintaining the beauty of the landscape.
Working closely with the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) and Capilano University Faculty Association, Dangerfield is ready to take these next steps. This involves continuing formal and informal discussions with students to better understand what their needs are. “We realized that to do that we have to really focus in on students’ success,” he said, adding that it could take some time in order for things to be done sustainably.