President Dangerfield outlines his vision for Capilano University
Christine Beyleveldt, Editor-in-Chief
President Paul Dangerfield sees himself as a builder. He was installed in October 2016, but 10 years earlier, as Dean of the Faculty of Business and Professional Studies, he saw Capilano College through its transition to a University. Dangerfield describes CapU as a university-college. The school awards degrees but has the atmosphere of a community college. In 2003, five years before officially transitioning, Capilano College became the first of its kind in BC to grant applied degrees independently. “We have a teaching university designation but that doesn’t exclude us from being able to do applied research and that’s one of the activities that I’d really like us to be able to embark on,” said Dangerfield, and to fulfill that desire, CapU seeks membership with Universities Canada.
Building the physical campus isn’t all that’s on Dangerfield’s radar. He envisions new programs, including postgraduate studies. Currently the University offers 12 Bachelor degrees and a joint Masters program with the University of Hertfordshire in Science and International Business, but doesn’t offer full credits for postgraduate studies. Dangerfield has a solid number in mind: 30 Bachelor degree programs. The Engineering program at CapU is also only a two-year program, and students wishing to continue need to transfer. He noted that there is a Bachelor of Science in development, but the University needs to look at the market and ensure that the industry can absorb any graduates.
“What I was really interested in doing [when I returned] was helping the University finish that transition that we’d started, and I’ve always been excited about opportunities to be a builder and grow things,” said Dangerfield. And build he has, despite the fact that CapU still receives college funding, and even as a college was one of the three lowest funded colleges in BC.
CapU partnered with Darwin Construction and opened an off-campus residence at 2420 Dollarton Highway last year at the site of the former Chung Dahm Immersion School. Despite the need for affordable housing, the residence was only at half capacity by the time the academic year began. This year, the residence hall was at 95 per cent capacity a month before move in day.
Another developer, Woodbridge Northwest Communities, took possession of the northeast lot of Purcell Woods. The residents agreed to sell the block of flats after being quoted approximately $100,000 to repair damages. In its place, Woodbridge proposed townhomes, condominiums and a student residence with 60 beds that would be directly accessible from campus.
As for the future look of campus itself, last year, the University started gathering feedback from students and the community to put together a 2030 campus master plan that looks at ways of efficiently using all 34 acres of land, and a couple of acres that are district land within CapU’s borders. “Not surprisingly, it’s telling us we really need to embrace where we are – the fact that we’re in the trees, we’re on the side of a mountain and we need to celebrate that,” said Dangerfield. One idea that really gets him excited is outdoor classrooms that would make the best use of the scenery to encourage learning.
While the North Vancouver campus continues to grow, one of the others hasn’t fared as well. In 2016, CapU’s Squamish regional campus was closed when its only program, the Advanced Wilderness Leadership Program (AWLP), was abruptly cut from the University’s course offering. At the time, instructors worried that it spelled the end for the program. Unlike Studio and Textile Arts, which were gutted in 2013 in the aftermath of budget cuts, CapU revealed that they only intended to close the campus for one year while they developed a post-baccalaureate in Adventure Management, which would begin accepting applications in January 2017. In the interim, Conseil scolaire francophone de la Colombie-Britannique would lease the facility. To this day, however, the Squamish regional campus remains closed.
Dangerfield wishes to reopen the campus and offer better support for the k̲álax̲-ay Sunshine Coast campus. While the Squamish facility only offered one program, the Sunshine Coast campus, which opened in 1987, offers courses in Business, Adult Basic Education and Health and Human Development. “I have a little bit of an idea that every course we offer here you should be able to take at those campuses and I think technology can help us resolve that,” he said.
Before CapU transitioned, it had the tagline great programs, great teaching, great future. “University with an experience second to none,” is what Dangerfield now envisions, with opportunities for research, work opportunities on campus and new programming.