(Above) From left, Elshika Hettiarachchi, Marla Warkentin and Jaylese Dziadek at a Booth University College open-house event
“It’s really exciting to be at Booth University College right now!” says Lt-Colonel (Dr.) Susan van Duinen. The new president and vice chancellor is admirably positioned to know.
This coming April, The Salvation Army’s Booth University College in Winnipeg will celebrate its 40th anniversary. From its modest beginnings as a Bible college, the institution has grown to become a nation-leading university college.
But what does the future hold?
“We’re at a point in time when we are looking at higher education through the lens of what’s next for Booth UC,” says Lt-Colonel van Duinen.
“We’re looking at creating a passport of learning.”—Lt-Colonel Susan van Duinen
Over the past year, the Governing Council of The Salvation Army also examined what Booth UC could do differently to serve the mission of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
“The Salvation Army is committed today to not only strengthening Booth University College as it currently exists but to making sure that we continue to do so going forward,” states Lt-Colonel John P. Murray, territorial secretary for communications and new chair of Booth UC’s Board of Trustees. “We want to position the school to grow through the lens of technology and determine how we can impact and connect with more people through the digital sphere. Whether that’s through offering more online courses through the School for Continuing Studies or through our undergraduate programs, this is something we’re significantly committed to, not only as a Board of Trustees but as an institution.”
Out of these deliberations arose three new initiatives.
Booth UC has been tasked with launching a Corporate Learning Academy, where Salvation Army officers, employees and volunteers will be equipped and strengthened through learning and development, in a variety of capacities, to serve the mission and people. This is aimed exclusively at the Canada and Bermuda Territory.
The Corporate Learning Academy will consist of a mixture of offerings, whether accredited courses, webinars on a specific topic, workshops or seminars. There will be a website, for instance, for the School for Continuing Studies and all the certificate programs that they offer.
“It will be a wonderful thing when all of these pieces can be gathered up and allocated in a one-stop shop for an employee or an officer,” says Lt-Colonel van Duinen. That person will be able to access a topic, such as human resources, and immediately access the courses or seminars. If someone is looking to develop certain skills, it will all be there, from managing conflict in the workplace to how to prepare a program proposal.
“We’re looking at creating a passport of learning,” says Lt-Colonel van Duinen.
Embracing the World
Whereas the Corporate Learning Academy is geared toward a domestic audience, another new initiative of Booth UC, in conjunction with The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters (IHQ), aims to embrace the rest of the world.
“Besides the Corporate Learning Academy, we’ve had inquiries from a variety of countries around the world: ‘Can you do this for our students?’ ” says Lt-Colonel van Duinen.
“We’re committed to supporting the training and development of Salvation Army officers around the world,” agrees Lt-Colonel Murray.
“Our School for Continuing Studies is working to create learning management system platforms by which we can offer a variety of trainings,” continues Lt-Colonel van Duinen.
The goal is to establish immediate, easy access and effective leadership development training from best practices, in partnership with IHQ.
To support this, five new Booth UC board members have been recruited over the last few months, including Colonel (Dr.) Wendy Swan, who along with her husband, Colonel Ian Swan, are the territorial leaders in the Zambia Territory. Colonel Wendy Swan understands the intrinsic value of Booth UC to The Salvation Army, having served there for many years.
“It’s a different way of supporting the mission,” says Lt-Colonel van Duinen, “by offering technology so that others will also have the knowledge. That’s going to be exciting for Booth UC.”
The third Booth UC initiative is to expand the school’s online capacity to include degree programs.
“The unpleasantness of COVID-19 has nevertheless given Booth UC the confidence that we can deliver more virtually, so we’re looking at putting our bachelor of social work program fully online,” explains Lt-Colonel van Duinen. “We’re in the midst of doing research to have a master of social work program for those students who want to continue their studies. And we’re looking at putting many of our current courses online.”
Eventually, all of Booth UC’s offerings will also be offered online.
Right Place, Right Time
A soft launch of the Corporate Learning Academy will occur in June with a full launch scheduled for the fall semester of 2022.
“Yes, it’s ambitious,” smiles Lt-Colonel van Duinen, “but we’re at a space and time in the life of Booth UC where we are agile, flexible and timely. And now is the time to offer some new ways for individuals to take advantage of developing skills and explore new areas of expertise, not only in the Canadian Salvation Army but around the Salvation Army world.”
Education for a Better World
William and Catherine Booth University College, a Christian university college rooted in The Salvation Army’s Wesleyan theological tradition, brings together Christian faith, rigorous scholarship and a passion for service.
The university college educates students to understand the complexities of our world, to develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be active contributors to society, and to know how Christian faith compels them to bring hope, social justice and mercy into our world.
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