A unique university designed for northerners

As Submitted to the Whitehorse Star on Friday, October 17th, 2014

by Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education, and Paul Flaherty, Chair, Yukon College Board of Governors

As a proud supporter of Yukon College, the Yukon government has invested a record amount—more than $26.5 million—in base funding to Yukon College this year. As partners, we continue to develop and implement a strategic plan for this institution, with the end goal of becoming a university for Yukon.

This week, we were pleased to announce that Yukon College is creating its first made-in-Yukon degree and post-graduate certificate programs, a three-year Bachelor of Policy Studies in Indigenous Governance and a one-year post-graduate certificate in Climate Change and Public Policy.

The degree in Indigenous Governance will deliver training and education that is culturally and regionally relevant to Yukon and Yukon First Nations. The post-graduate certificate in Climate Change and Public Policy will build upon the excellent work being produced through the Northern Climate Exchange in the College’s Yukon Research Centre.

These two new programs will be the first degree and post-degree certificate to be issued by Yukon College. Offering a degree program represents a significant milestone in the continued evolution of the college as a northern leader in post-secondary education and towards becoming a university.

The College Board has worked alongside management, staff and faculty at the college to research what it really means to transition to a university. Leaders from more than 60 universities and organizations across Canada, and around the world, have provided insights, with particular attention paid to unique institutions, and those that have transitioned recently from a college to a university.

Looking forward, the Yukon government and Yukon College are taking a phased-in approach that will allow Yukon College to gradually evolve into a university that is innovative and continues to be relevant and responsive to Yukon’s labour market needs. This will ensure that the current vocational and skills development programs, from trades training to adult basic education, will continue to flourish alongside new degree programs.

We are proud of the work accomplished so far by the Yukon government, the Yukon College Board of Governors, management, faculty and staff on the development of all programs at the College including this new degree and post-graduate certificate, and the contribution this will make as we move along the path toward becoming a university.

We would like to thank others who spoke at this week’s announcement at the Yukon College Ayamdigut campus, including Council of Yukon First Nations Grand Chief Ruth Massie, Yukon College representatives Dr. Karen Barnes, Dr. Deb Bartlette, Tosh Southwick and special guest Vancouver Island University President Dr. Ralph Nilson.

Congratulations and thanks to all who worked so hard to bring us to this point. We still have much work ahead on this journey. Ultimately, support for Yukon College is support for the expansion of educational opportunities for Yukoners, a goal that all Yukoners share.

Elaine Taylor, Minister of Education and Paul Flaherty, Chair, Yukon College Board of Governors