‘One of the most pow­er­ful ex­pe­ri­ences’

For­mer NSCC, Aca­dia pres­i­dent to be in­vested into Or­der of Nova Sco­tia

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - BY KIRK STARRATT KINGSCOUN­TYNEWS.CA Kirk.starratt@kingscoun­tynews.ca

A well-known Wolfville man soon to be in­vested into the Or­der of Nova Sco­tia has al­ways be­lieved that lead­er­ship is about im­prov­ing the lives of oth­ers and the sys­tems they live un­der.

Ray Ivany is one of three An­napo­lis Val­ley res­i­dents who will re­ceive the pres­ti­gious recog­ni­tion dur­ing a cer­e­mony at Prov­ince House on Nov. 7. He said it’s a pro­found hon­our that seems al­most sur­real and he’ll prob­a­bly spend the rest of his life try­ing to process what it means.

Ivany has spent his ca­reer fo­cused on higher ed­u­ca­tion and public pol­icy. For ex­am­ple, he said his time as a fac­ulty mem­ber and vice-pres­i­dent of the Univer­sity Col­lege of Cape Bre­ton in his home­town of Syd­ney meant a lot to him.

“I’ve been so for­tu­nate,” Ivany said. “I’ve spent my ca­reer in in­sti­tu­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tions that had in­cred­i­ble peo­ple, in­cred­i­ble mis­sions and I was but part of that suc­cess.”

He said he wishes his par­ents were still alive so he could say thank you. They made great sac­ri­fices so he could get a great ed­u­ca­tion and have op­por­tu­ni­ties they didn’t have.

Trans­form­ing the NSCC

Ivany is known in­ter­na­tion­ally as an in­no­va­tor, hav­ing trans­formed the Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege into a na­tional leader in ap­plied post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion while serv­ing as its pres­i­dent. Ivany said he went there for a rea­son: he felt Nova Sco­tia was be­ing hurt by not hav­ing a mod­ern col­lege sys­tem and struc­ture.

The mid 1990s saw broad eco­nomic growth across many sec­tors and there was a para­dox­i­cal co­ex­is­tence of rel­a­tively high un­em­ploy­ment and skills short­ages across a wide spec­trum of oc­cu­pa­tions.

He felt it was nec­es­sary to at­tempt to leapfrog over a 30-year pe­riod of un­der­de­vel­op­ment in the prov­ince’s col­lege sys­tem to ad­dress this. He feels good that we now have one of the best col­leges in the coun­try for ap­plied learn­ing.

“There is re­ally a cul­ture and magic that ex­ists in­side of NSCC that I just found ex­tra­or­di­nary,” Ivany said.

El­e­vat­ing un­der­grad­u­ate stud­ies

As pres­i­dent of Aca­dia Univer­sity, he helped el­e­vated the in­sti­tu­tion into one of Canada’s lead­ing pri­mar­ily un­der­grad­u­ate uni­ver­si­ties. They at­tracted a top-flight fac­ulty who wanted to teach and get to know their stu­dents in small classes in a way that has be­come in­creas­ingly rare in Canada.

There were chal­lenges to ad­dress, such as de­creas­ing en­rol­ment and fi­nan­cial con­cerns that had to be dealt with in such a man­ner that the unique stu­dent ex­pe­ri­ence wouldn’t be com­pro­mised.

They were able to grow en­rol­ment by 25 per cent, the largest growth in At­lantic Canada over that pe­riod; dra­mat­i­cally in­crease re­search fund­ing and the op­por­tu­nity for stu­dents to be di­rectly in­volved in re­search.

“Liv­ing within our means, which I guess is the best way to de­scribe it, we were able to chip away and make some im­prove­ments to cam­pus al­most every year,” he said.

One Nova Sco­tia

Ivany was chair­man of Nova Sco­tia Com­mis­sion on Build­ing Our New Econ­omy in 2014 and was one of the au­thors of the re­port Now or Never: An Ur­gent Call to Ac­tion for Nova Sco­tians, also known as the Ivany Re­port.

“There were some harsh re­al­i­ties, de­mo­graph­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally, that we felt the prov­ince needed to face,” Ivany said.

He said the im­pact or legacy of the re­port would be some­thing for his­to­ri­ans to judge once enough time has elapsed to as­sess if some of the big­ger ideas or trans­for­ma­tions ac­tu­ally work or not.

“What I feel good about on be­half of my fel­low com­mis­sion­ers is I think we told the truth,” Ivany said.

He said they felt the cir­cum­stances the prov­ince was fac­ing were such that “round­ing off the sharp edges wasn’t the right thing to do.”

Ivany said there were a lot of an­a­lyt­ics in­di­cat­ing that if we as Nova Sco­tians stayed on the cur­rent track, it wouldn’t end well. By get­ting on an­other track, we could ar­rive at more pros­per­ous out­comes.

“It was one of the most pow­er­ful ex­pe­ri­ences that I ever went through. I think my other four com­mis­sion­ers would tell you the ex­act same thing,” Ivany said. “It was exhausting and it was a gut-wrench­ing year or so in many ways but it was an in­cred­i­ble priv­i­lege.”

KIRK STARRATT

Ray Ivany, for­mer pres­i­dent of the Nova Sco­tia Com­mu­nity Col­lege and Aca­dia Univer­sity, will be in­vested into the Or­der of Nova Sco­tia in Novem­ber.

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