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    Recruitment campaign a monster
    MacEwan looking to fill 41 teaching positions

    Jodie Sinnema
    The Edmonton Journal

    Saturday, February 18, 2006

    CREDIT: Chris Schwarz, the Journal
    Sociology professor Fiona Angus chose to teach at Grant MacEwan College because she enjoys smaller classes and the chance to establish a more personal rapport with students.

    EDMONTON -- Grant MacEwan College is in the midst of the biggest recruitment campaign in its history, spending big bucks on national ads to attract academics with PhDs for 41 teaching positions.

    MacEwan needs to fill the positions over the next two and a half years so it can offer four-year bachelor of arts degrees starting this September.

    "We're very optimistic we will get the best and the brightest," said Paul Byrne, president of the college, which opened in 1971. "I don't think there will be any challenge in getting competent, qualified people interested in coming to MacEwan. Certainly, if they are interested in pure research, they will go to those institutions that offer that type of programming. That is not what we offer. What we do offer is a friendly, MacEwan family environment."

    Already, more than 300 academics have sent in applications, most from across Canada and the United States, with less than two per cent coming from other countries. MacEwan launched its campaign in January with a series of advertisements in the Globe and Mail, which cost the college about $100,000. One full-page ad in the front section promoted Edmonton as a thriving city with "theatre, opera, dance, the visual arts ... professional sports -- and, well, all that shopping at the famous mall."

    "We've got a great story about our city and it needs to be told more overtly to more of Canada and the rest of the world," Byrne said.

    A series of six quarter-page ads described current professors who came to MacEwan after getting their doctorate degrees from institutions such as the University of Oxford, the RWTH Aachen University in Germany, the University of British Columbia and Queen's University.

    "MacEwan offered me a flexible schedule that helped me balance my career with my family," said Karen Buro, who teaches math at the college after coming from Germany. "Winters in Edmonton are beautiful. You can start skiing in Edmonton and then go and enjoy the mountains."

    Ads also ran in publications for the American economic, sociological and archaeology associations to target experts in those areas.

    MacEwan needs 16 professors in place by the end of the summer to teach anthropology, economics, English, history, philosophy, political science, psychology and sociology. The college also needs to fill one position for its new child and youth care degree.

    The other 25 positions should be filled by September 2007.

    Byrne said the college has grown dramatically over the last eight or nine years, with 10 to 12 new professors coming on board each year; some have PhDs but others have masters degrees and field experience, since some diploma programs don't require the higher degrees.

    The last time the college had a huge recruiting campaign was 20 years ago when MacEwan introduced university transfer programs. At that time, MacEwan hired 20 to 40 new people.

    Byrne said he doesn't believe the college will struggle to find top-notch people, even though MacEwan isn't as large or prestigious as places such as the University of Alberta.

    "It gives people an option, rather than going to a traditional university or research university," he said. "They are coming to a smaller environment that focuses on teaching and learning, and provides much more interaction with students. The centre of our attention is the learner."

    Fiona Angus, a sociology professor, said she would take her job at MacEwan over a position at a bigger place any day.

    "With a smaller class, you are able to establish a much more intimate rapport with the students," said Angus, who liked the full-time nature of her MacEwan job. For two years before coming to Edmonton, she was a sessional instructor at UBC, a position which offered no tenure. She supplemented her income by teaching at three other colleges.

    "I've grown to really enjoy Edmonton," said Angus, naming NHL hockey, the Fringe and the symphony as draws. "I love the snow and I love the cold."

    Byrne said he has no concerns that new hires will use MacEwan as a bridge for other academic jobs, since that's a normal part of an academic life.

    "MacEwan is known nationally and internationally," Byrne said. "This would certainly be an excellent place to have on your resume. MacEwan is a place that people very seldom leave unless the family leaves or you're looking at another component of your career."

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    The Edmonton Journal 2006
    President and CEO - Airshow.