Remarks from our Mohawk Alumni of Distinction Awards Dinner Reply

The best way to sell Mohawk College to prospective students, employers, funders and donors?

Tell them about remarkable Mohawk alumni.

Last night, we celebrated eight grads who received Mohawk Alumni of Distinction awards. The awards recognize graduates for outstanding career achievements and community contributions. This year, we honoured:

  • Ava Green
  • Sharon Charters
  • Emily Baynes
  • Bronko Jazvac
  • Ray Adamyk
  • Anthony Frisina
  • Brent Kinnaird, and
  • Paul Armstrong.

Every one of our recipients delivered heartfelt speeches that reflected on how what they did at Mohawk launched their careers. All of our distinguished alumni also talked about the importance of giving back to the community.

Thanks to the Alumni Association for establishing a student scholarship or bursary named for each of our recipients. To date, the association has established 98 scholarship and bursaries totalling $49,000.

I want to thank our Alumni Relations team for making this a special night for our recipients along with their proud family and friends. Thank you Kelly Dunham, Meaghan Drury, Kristy Ryerson, Michele Daigle and Wendy Makey.

I also want to thank Kate McKenna, a past Alumni of Distinction recipient who served as our Master of Ceremonies. Kate, together with her mom and Mohawk professor Sue Prestedge, received Alumni of Distinction Awards in 2011.

Here are my brief remarks (always best to be brief when you’re the one standing between guests and dinner).

“Good evening everyone and thank you Kate.

It’s great to see that being a master of ceremonies is a family affair at Mohawk College.

Your mom did an outstanding job as MC at my installation ceremony last month. Sue also interviewed me during our annual President’s Breakfast back in August. So I know we’re in very capable hands.

I’m closing in on my first 90 days on the job.  I’ve loved every minute. Mohawk is blessed with outstanding talent in our students and alumni, our faculty and staff, and our college partners.

Two weeks ago, we had our Fall Convocation ceremony.

It was my first in what I hope will be many, many ceremonies.

We had the privilege to congratulate and shake the hands of about a thousand freshly minted grads.

When we looked out into the audience, we saw proud family and friends. We have the same view here tonight.

I was excited for our new grads because a world of possibilities and opportunities awaits.  I’m quite confident that we’ll be honoring some of those graduates at future Alumni of Distinction dinners.

While we’re celebrating eight remarkable Mohawk alumni tonight, we’re not going to stop talking about you any time soon.

The best way to sell Mohawk to prospective donors, funders and employers is to tell them about our graduates.

When we’re asked why they should invest in scholarships, bursaries and campus renewal projects, we’re going to talk about you. You’re going to be their return on investment.

We’re going to talk about distinguished alumni who lead and grow organizations. Alumni who start their own companies, create jobs and build prosperity. Alumni who inspire and mentor and advocate for others.

Alumni who define and deliver on Mohawk’s vision of prosperous communities and transformed lives.

Mohawk contributes in many ways to the prosperity of the communities we proudly serve.

And like those communities, our strength is people. Our team of faculty and staff. More than 22 thousand full-time, part-time and apprenticeship students. And our Mohawk alumni – more than 100 thousand strong and future ready.

I look forward to telling your stories over and over again.

So congratulations Ava and Sharon. Emily and Bronko. Ray and Anthony. Brent and Paul.

We’re proud, grateful…but not at all surprised…at what you’ve accomplished in your careers and contributed to our communities.

Enjoy the celebration and the well-deserved honours.”

Remarks from the 23rd annual Canadian Institutional Research and Planning Association Reply

Proud of Mohawk's Institutional Research team. Good data = smart decisions. Thanks to Brian Maloney, George Rombers, Shannon Gould, Helen Sheridan and Carmelinda Del Conte.

Proud of Mohawk’s Institutional Research team. Good data = smart decisions. Thanks to Brian Maloney, George Rombers, Shannon Gould, Helen Sheridan and Carmelinda Del Conte.

Mohawk and McMaster University co-hosted the 23rd annual Canadian Institutional Research and Planning Association (CIRPA) Conference earlier this week, with Mohawk’s own Carmelinda Del Conte chairing the local organizing committee. My wife and I were honoured to be guests at the conference kick-off on Sunday evening. Here’s my address to the conference delegates.

“Thank you Carmelinda.

I’m thinking we should rework your job title to include institutional research and special events.

On behalf of Mohawk College, I’d to welcome delegates and sponsors to the city we are so proud to serve with great educational partners like McMaster University.

Last week was Mohawk’s Fall Convocation. It was my first convocation ceremony since joining Mohawk in August. More than a thousand students walked across the stage with proud family and friends in the audience.

During Convocation, I told students about two of life’s most important words. Words that you should say early and often, at work and on the home front.

So I’d like to say those two words to all of you this evening.

Thank you.

Thank you for the work that you do for your employers. Without you, we’d be flying blind.  Your association represents professionals from post secondary education, government and industry. Like your members, I’ve worked in all three sectors.

And throughout my career, I have relied on good data.

Good data makes for smart decisions.

Good data leads to actionable insights.

And at Mohawk, good data means more of our students are graduating future ready.

Mohawk is blessed to have an outstanding institutional research team with Carm, Helen, Shannon, George and Brian.  Should anyone at the conference try to poach from our team, I’ll have something to say about it. And it won’t be thank you.

Our team is helping us proactively identify Mohawk students who at serious risk of not completing their studies. We’re using data to not only identify what supports and services to offer but when and how we should help.

We’re using data to set our students up for success rather than failure.

We also count on our institutional research team to keep us relevant and responsive to the needs of the communities we serve. Are we offering the right programs? Are Mohawk students graduating with the skills and experience that employers are looking for? The answers are in the data.

So good data helps us deliver on Mohawk’s vision of prosperous communities and transformed lives. More students are graduating from Mohawk, joining the workforce and making an immediate contribution.

Like your organizations, people are a community’s greatest strength. Especially people with the right skills and experience. Here in Hamilton, many of those people are Mohawk and McMaster graduates.

And lastly, good data helps us meet the fiscal storm bearing down on most of our organizations. With the data you collect and analyze, we can ensure that our institutions continue to deliver the greatest value for every dollar we spend. Dollars that have been entrusted to us from students paying tuition and citizens paying taxes.

So again, thank you for the work that you do. It may feel like unsung work at times. Yet I can assure you, you’re helping us make smart, informed decisions that build prosperity and transform lives.

Enjoy your conference.”


Poll: Your favourite time of the year Reply

Fall is my favourite time of the year. What’s yours?

Kudos – National conference, Fall Convocation and North American honours Reply

Thanks to Carmelinda Del Conte for helping bring the 23rd annual  Canadian Institutional Research and Planning Association conference to Hamilton this week. Carmelinda was chair of the local organizing committee, with Mohawk and McMaster co-hosting the conference.  The national association has 230 members working in postsecondary educaton, government and industry. As I told conference delegates Sunday evening, their work is invaluable for our organizations because good data is absolutely essential for smart decisions that benefit our students.

I can strike another first off my list. I had the privilege of congratulating our newest graduates during the Fall Convocation ceremonies on Oct. 17.  Our team of students and staff did an outstanding job of making this a very special event for our graduates and their proud family and friends.  Thanks to Anthony Cascella, Barbara Russell, Catherie Byron, Daniel Pavic, Dana Jacobs, Deanna Lintott, Doloras Morrallee, Don Holland, Donna Drywood, Donna James, Dusty Noble, Elizabeth Gray, Mary Beattie, Jason Kovacs, Jill Wignall, Kelly Dunham, Alexia Neziol, Louise Nowak, Lucy Lobodici, Maria Segato, Mary Male, Michelle Shuttler, Mirela Vujcic, Pamela Smith, Randy  Garbett, Ron  Mclester, Ruth Leszko, Sabrina Fordham, Sheila Charkot, Shirley Kuta, Steven Mikalauskas, Tara Holdsworth, Theresa Bain, Katie Burrows, Thomas Good, Arek Stegienko, Cheryl Olario, Don Holland, Jeff Fodor, Jill Wignall, Shannon Langton, Allison Batchelor, Leah Hogan, Amanda Collina, Sabrina Fordham, Jamshed Turel, Chris Blackwood, Mike Polci, Wayne Poirier, Fred Nickner and Marilyn Micucci.

Our David Braley Athletic and Recreation Centre has been awarded a 2014 Facility of Merit Award by Athletic Business. Mohawk is one of 10 recipients chosen from 61 entries from across North America.  Constructed as part of our ongoing Fennell campus renewal project, our 64,000 square foot centre opened in September 2014 for students, alumni, faculty and staff.

You asked…Why did Mohawk have Calgary’s mayor at our skilled trades campus last week? Don’t we want our grads living and working in Hamilton? Reply

Why was Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi  at our skilled trades campus last week?  Don’t we want Mohawk graduates living and working in Hamilton?

The majority of our 100,000-plus alumni live and work in Hamilton and the surrounding region. We also have grads who, thanks to their Mohawk education, are working across the country and around the world.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi was travelling across Canada promoting job opportunities in Calgary. Some major employers asked Calgary’s economic development department if Mayor Nenshi could pay a visit to our skilled trades campus and talk with our students and apprentices. We should take those industry requests as a pretty strong endorsement that speak to the reputation of our skilled trades campus, the quality of our programs and the calibre of students, apprentices, faculty and staff.

You asked…I heard you had a breakfast meeting at IAHS last week. How were faculty and staff invited? Reply

I’m having four breakfast meetings this semester. These are informal meetings with a small group of faculty, support and administrative staff. I get to ask questions and listen. My first breakfast was at Stoney Creek and we had a second breakfast last week at IAHS. Two more breakfasts are planned at the Fennell campus before the end of the semester.

During these one hour meetings, we talk about what’s working, what could work better and ideas for moving Mohawk from good to great.  I’m taking suggestions back with me and asking my senior management team to follow up.

Deans were asked to recommend people who’d tell me what I need to know rather than what they think I’d like to hear.

I plan to have more breakfast meetings in the winter semester, along with town halls. If you’re interested in attending a breakfast in the new year, please send me an email.

You asked…why are 360 evaluations for senior managers voluntary and not mandatory? Reply

This was my call. Based on past experience. I’ve found that some senior managers aren’t open to getting feedback in this way and others may be planning to retire or leave the organization in the near future. If the feedback is not going to be used then senior managers shouldn’t ask for it and take up the time of other administrative staff, faculty and support staff.

Here at Mohawk, plans to reintroduce 360 evaluations as a development tool were well received by our senior management team. Most of the team has completed 360 evaluations in the past and sees real value in learning how they’re perceived by others.

You asked…Will faculty and support staff have 360 evaluations? Reply

No. We we’re not planning to do 360 evaluations beyond the senior management team at this time. Faculty and support staff may be asked in the weeks ahead to give anonymous and confidential feedback on members of our senior management team. The 360 evaluations, along with our new Future Ready Leadership and mentoring programs, will help us develop the leaders Mohawk needs to go from good to great. While there are no plans for 360 evaluations for faculty and support staff, I’d encourage everyone to review how consistently we demonstrate Mohawk’s 10 expected behaviors in our day-to-day work.

Sharing two of life’s most important words with Mohawk’s graduating class of 2014 1

Before shaking hands with every graduating student at yesterday’s Fall Convocation Ceremony, I gave the class of 2014 one final assignment – thank your family and friends who supported you, thank that one person at Mohawk who made the biggest impression on you and then help another student follow in your footsteps once you’re established in your career.

Here’s a copy of my Convocation address:

Ron McKerlie Fall 2014 Convocation Address Mohawk College