BY CHRISTY JANSSENS
It looks like Sheridan’s journey toward becoming a university is going to take a detour.
At President Mary Preece’s first Advisory College Council Town Hall Meeting on Jan. 24, she clarified Sheridan’s polytechnic goals to a group of about 150 employees at Trafalgar Campus.
“Institutional isolation, trying to be the salmon swimming upstream as a unique entity doesn’t stand an institution in very good stead,” said Preece, referring to Sheridan’s lone ranger pursuit of university status. “Being the lonely traveller is dangerous.”
Preece said that within the first two months of her becoming president, she became aware of a group of colleges pursuing a move toward creating a third sector bridging university and college: the polytechnic institution.
“I did attend the meeting of Polytechnics Canada in November,” she said. “What I learned was that there are some colleges having conversations about a polytechnic centre and Sheridan wasn’t part of the conversation. We weren’t part of the conversation because the assumption on the part of the presidents was that we had our own vision with Sheridan University and the polytechnic wasn’t appropriate for us. There really wasn’t a will to include us.”
Now, however, things have changed.
“I’ve danced the dance and had lots of conversation with my colleague presidents,” Preece said. “Long story short, we are part of that movement now.”
She quickly clarified her statement. “That is not to say we have changed directions,” she said. “The idea is we’re learning as we go along on the journey. For me, for polytechnic identity to bypass us, it would be a very bad thing. It wouldn’t be good for us. And that it was really necessary to find some like-minded travellers.”
“If you think about Ryerson,” she said, “Ryerson started as a polytechnic and became a polytechnic university, then became a full on university. We may be, by disposition, very well positioned as a polytechnic university. I think it’s more attuned with our DNA.”