Memorial University provides more than classroom experience. One of the first universities to adopt a co-operative program, Memorial now offers co-op studies in a growing number of disciplines. Learning at Memorial is an experiential process and over the last year the university provided students with a number of innovative learning opportunities.
Nursing education: outside the box
For students with an undergraduate degree or advanced academic standing, there's now a quicker way to earn a bachelor of nursing degree. The new fast track option in the bachelor of nursing (collaborative) program allows these students to complete a BN in two years of concentrated study. The regular BN is a four-year program. The fast track option was introduced in response to the increased demand for nursing graduates. In September, 21 students began the fast track option -14 students at the Memorial site and seven at the Western Regional School of Nursing. The first graduates of the new option will cross the convocation stage in 2004.
Nursing program goes online
Memorial University has teamed up with American Learning Solutions, an e-learning company, to attract U.S. students to the online bachelor of nursing program (post-RN) beginning with the January 2004 class. Over the life of the agreement, over 500 US-based nurses may become Memorial students. This opportunity recognizes the expertise of Memorial University in distance education and the strength of our nursing program. "Distance education is a great way for nurses and other professionals to further their education at a time and place convenient to their busy work lives," said Ann Marie Vaughan, Memorial's director of Distance Education and Learning Technologies. According to Dr. Richard Oliver, president of American Learning Solutions, about 60 per cent of practicing registered nurses in the US do not have a bachelor of nursing degree. "The need for a program to allow nurses to earn a degree and maintain full-time employment led us to search for a partner with online leadership and a track record for quality and efficiency. Memorial University is the obvious choice."
Groundbreaking program teaches media skills
Last year was the inaugural year for the groundbreaking diploma in performance and communications media. The program offers practical training and experience in both the film and theatre genres by putting students onstage and behind the scenes. Students study subjects such as stagecraft, film and video production, directing, acting and producing. They gain practical experience through time spent in the CBC television studios, as well as working with on-campus theatrical productions, and with Memorial's Centre for Academic Media Services (CAMS). The diploma in performance and communications media was born out of the drama specialization offered in the Department of English for many years. The diploma program attracted 12 students in its first year.
New program focused on water quality
Protecting the limited supply of good quality water has become one of the most critical issues facing our country today. Responding to the growing demand for qualified specialists, the Marine Institute launched its new advanced diploma in water quality in September 2003. Graduates of this new, one-year program will understand the ecological issues affecting our water supplies and be equipped to treat, maintain and use our aquatic resources safely and efficiently.
New facility aims to train for safety
With the announcement of the new Safety and Emergency Response Training (SERT) Centre in Stephenville, the Marine Institute, together with the Stephenville Airport Corporation, is poised to become the leading safety and emergency response training facility in Atlantic Canada. ACOA announced over $1 million in funding to establish the SERT Centre last spring. Combining MI's capabilities in offshore marine research with the airport corporation's aviation fire training expertise will make this province into the training leader in the marine transportation, fisheries, oil and gas, industrial and aviation sectors in Atlantic Canada. The alliance is a further demonstration of Memorial University's commitment to strengthen rural and economic development in Newfoundland and Labrador and to provide students and clients on the west coast with improved access to training. When up and running the centre is expected to contribute up to $1.6 million a year to the economic development of the Stephenville region.
Learning from the very best
Noted Canadian tenor Ben Heppner and British choral musician Sir David Willcocks, who were awarded honorary degrees at Memorial's spring convocation in May 2003, took time to offer students a master class and a choral clinic at the School of Music. Six voice majors from the school received public coaching from Dr. Heppner and were treated to a sampling of the voice that has made him famous. The session closed with the awarding of the second annual Ben Heppner 25th Anniversary School of Music Scholarship to baritone David Keleher-Flight. Sir David Willcocks led two regional high school choirs in a session that gave students and others the experience of working with an artist of international stature. "The opportunity was a phenomenal stimulus to musicians in our community and validates the level of musicianship among our students," said student Kellie Walsh. "The bonus is that both Ben and Sir David are ideal mentors: wise, warm and encouraging."
Budding composers get a big audience
Last spring the compositions of three Memorial music students shared a program with the music of Mendelssohn and Mozart at a concert performed by the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra. Adam Foran, Jason Noble and Clay Puddester were in the audience for the Sinfonia Series concert and heard the chamber orchestra play pieces they had written in a composition seminar. Their respective musical compositions were crafted with the guidance of professional composer and music school professor Dr. Clark Ross. The innovative composition seminar was the first of its kind at Memorial and possibly the first time that a Canadian professional orchestra has sponsored the creation of new works by three students. The result, according to both the audience and the musicians involved, was an unqualified success. "Composing the music for the Sinfonia Series was perhaps the most important exercise they have done," Dr. Ross said. "It's one thing to play your music back to a teacher, another to have it played publicly."
Dr. Ross added, "Opportunities like these encourage student composers and, as a result, Newfoundland and Labrador could emerge as one of the leading areas in the country for composition." To hear excerpts from these student compositions please see the audio section of this report.