CapU Becomes Member of Universities Canada

Membership to national association provides opportunities to advance CapU’s Envisioning 2030 plan

Bridget Stringer-Holden // Associate News Editor
Sharleen Ramos // Illustrator

Capilano University (CapU), previously Capilano College, officially got its university designation from the provincial government in 2008. On Oct. 28, CapU officially became a member of Universities Canada, an organization that provides a voice for Canadian universities nationally and internationally.

“Universities Canada is a community of education and research leaders who collaborate together and it’s an opportunity to now share with them, learn with them and to progress with them,” said Paul Dangerfield, CapU President. “To be able to see what different universities are doing in different jurisdictions is really exciting as well.”

Becoming a member of Universities Canada allows CapU opportunities to become involved in their work, primarily at the executive level. Dangerfield sits on standing committees, and faculty are encouraged to participate as well. However, Dangerfield doesn’t consider this to be an onerous requirement, more so an opportunity that makes it worthwhile to join the organization in the first place.

“The presidents from Universities Canada in the western region would all get together and talk about initiatives that they wanted to move forward with,” said Dangerfield. “And of course, we weren’t part of that and those conversations, so we were frankly missing out on a really important participation in education and research.” This was also the case at all levels of the executive who were missing out on those conversations and initiatives where CapU was not previously included.

This process to join Universities Canada has been in the works for about four years. Dangerfield made it one of his goals to join this national association of universities when he first became president. “It’s not just about the membership,” he said, explaining that CapU’s key Envisioning 2030 goals supporting equity, diversity and inclusivity, as well as advancing truth and reconciliation, align with Universities Canada stances. “It’s having that advantage of other universities from coast to coast to coast and what they’re going to be doing. We can share and we can learn from them.”

“We needed to expand our degree offerings,” said Dangerfield, explaining that this needed to be done at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. “We had to make some significant shifts, and I’m really proud that we were able to do that and really grateful for the team that actually led us through that process because I believe that we’re a better university for it.” The newest Bachelor Degree offering is the Bachelor of Kinesiology—formerly offered as a two-year diploma.

Laureen Styles began her role as VP Academic & Provost in 2018, and that summer took over the application process. The application to Universities Canada falls under Styles’ role, which consists of focusing on exceptional academic experiences in teaching and learning. There are multiple steps to apply, including a site visit—after which a university can be recommended for membership. The board of Universities Canada then votes to approve that University.

“We’ve been a name for a number of years, and we have been evolving our university,” said Styles. “We’ve had lots of good progress, and this is that validation that we have met a range of university standards.” CapU needs to renew its membership every five years through a reaffirmation process to ensure that the standards continue to be met.

As a member-driven organization, Universities Canada allows for connections between member universities to create common priorities that will benefit all constituents, which Styles described as learners and community members. “I think it also validates for faculty, for students, and for our communities that our university does indeed have a university standard of quality and governance that I think is very affirming,” she said.

Styles also believes that this will create new opportunities and allow CapU to maintain the high quality of its academic programs. “I think the benefits for students may feel a bit intangible,” she said. “But, to me, this is also about quality and that external reviewers and we, through our self-assessment, feel that there is a validation that we have strong programs.”

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