In keeping with the spirit of the season, you’re getting an extra day of holidays to spend with family
and friends on Friday, January 2nd. Mohawk will close our doors at noon on Wednesday,
December 24th and reopen on Monday, January 5th to welcome our new and returning students.
Like many of you, I’ll be watching It’s a Wonderful Life during the holidays. Frank Capra’s classic is
my all-time favourite Christmas movie. In one scene, Clarence the angel reminds George Bailey that
“each man’s life touches so many other lives, and when he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole,
At some point over the holidays, please take a few moments to reflect on the lives you have touched
at Mohawk during the past year. What difference did you make for our students and your
colleagues? Based on what I’ve seen since arriving at Mohawk back in August, you’ll likely come up
with an impressive list of contributions.
Here are some Mohawk moments and milestones that stood out for me. First and foremost, I’ve
been impressed by the talents of our students. Others have been equally impressed. As just one
example, our Advertising students won gold earlier this month at the Canadian Marketing
Association’s awards gala. It’s the seventh year in a row that our students have taken top spot in the
creative category. Two other teams won silver and bronze, while students also won a silver medal
and two awards of merit at the Advertising & Design Club of Canada’s 2014 awards show. They’re
going to need a much bigger trophy case.
Like our students, Mohawk also received awards and accolades as a best employer and a leader in
applied research and on social media. For the second year in a row, Mohawk was named one of the
top employers in Hamilton and Niagara, and one of the top 50 research colleges in Canada. We
were also recognized as Canada’s second most active college on social media sites like Facebook
and Twitter. During our holiday lunches, you will receive your commemorative top employer pin. If
you can’t attend a luncheon, please stop by the President’s Office next week to pick one up.
We welcomed a record number of students to Mohawk in September, congratulated nearly 1,800
future-ready graduates during our Fall Convocation ceremonies and honoured eight remarkable
graduates at our Alumni of Distinction Awards. Welcoming new students and congratulating freshly
minted grads and award-winning alumni is hands down one of the best perks of my job.
Earlier this month, we recognized the Mohawk Students’ Association’s $500,000 donation to our
skilled trades campus. Together with the Marshall family, the MSA’s support has significantly
improved services and amenities for our students and apprentices. As I said during the MSA Fitness
Centre dedication, our college and students’ association have forged one of the strongest
partnerships of any postsecondary institution in Canada.
We also earned high marks this Fall in our latest Program Quality Assurance Process Audit. Mohawk
met 27 of 28 requirements in the provincial audit, with only one requirement partially met. We also
received commendations from the auditors for our work on educational technology tools, student
services and supports, the renewal of our Fennell Campus, our commitment to sustainability and our
partnership with McMaster University.
Looking ahead to 2015, we’ll be starting the year with our executive team in place. Deborah Brown
joined us in December as our new Vice President of Corporate Services while Dr. Christine BradaricBaus
will join us January 5th as our new Vice President Academic. We will also welcome three new
members to our Board of Governors – Anna Ventresca, Mark Farrow and Sheree Meredith.
In mid-March, Mohawk will play host to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association’s national men’s
basketball championships presented by Budds BMW Hamilton. Our Mohawk Mountaineers will
square off against seven of the country’s other best teams in our David Braley Athletic and
Recreation Centre, which received a 2014 North American Athletic Business Facility of Merit Award.
True to form, we are turning the national championships into a living lab for students from many of
Building and strengthening partnerships with employers, funders and donors will be my top priority
in the new year. Mohawk will achieve even better and far bigger outcomes by working with others
who share our vision of transformed lives and prosperous communities.
There are also tremendous opportunities to build even more partnerships within our college. I had
the good fortune this semester to go on a number of field trips to watch our students in action and
do some amazing things. Climbing a girder at the top of a Toronto office tower is something I can
now cross off my bucket list thanks to professor Peter Olynyk and the team at Walters.
Two class visits stand out and underscore the power of partnerships. I attended a caring for the
caregiver Wellness Wednesday event in the MSA Boardroom organized by professor Kelley Hoyt.
Her Child and Youth Worker students received much-appreciated shoulder and back massages from
our Massage Therapy students. Massage Therapy students are also gaining invaluable practical
experience by keeping our varsity teams loose, limber and at the top of their game.
A few weeks later, I joined an end-of-semester celebration with our Educational Support and
Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) students. Faculty brought the
students together at the start of their first semester, with our Educational Support students helping
CICE students make a successful transition to college. The learning went both ways and new
friendships were one of the key outcomes. The students will reunite in their final semester, with
Educational Support students preparing transition plans for life after college for our CICE graduates.
To help facilitate more of these partnerships within our college, I’d like to follow through on one of
the many great suggestions that have been made during my informal breakfast meetings with faculty
and staff. In 2015, I’d like us to hold an Open Doors Mohawk event where we tour our campuses,
check out our labs, learn more about our programs, talk with our colleagues and find new
opportunities to work together and engage our students.
On a personal note, it has been an absolute privilege to join Mohawk, to serve our students and to
support you in your incredibly important work. There are not many jobs where you make such a
tangible difference in the lives of so many people every single day. We are doing that here at
Mohawk and you are doing it with remarkable professionalism and passion. You should take great
pride in your commitment to building wonderful lives for our students.
If we don’t meet during our holiday lunches, I want to wish you and your family peace and joy during
our extended holidays. Please take time to relax, recharge and reflect on the difference you made at
Mohawk. I look forward to working with you in 2015 as we move our college from good to great for
the benefit of all our students.