Isabel Dunnigan is Concordia’s new associate vice-president of professional education and valorisation du français
As Concordia associate vice-president of professional education and valorisation du français, Isabel Dunnigan will be drawing up and delivering on plans for the university’s new Centre for Executive and Professional Development, as well as the Bureau institutionnel de Valorisation du français.
Under her leadership, the unit will incorporate the John Molson Executive Centre (JMEC), now within the John Molson School of Business, which offers programs, coaching and bilingual learning to executives.
Dunnigan’s team has already been working closely with the faculties to deliver high-impact professional education. That includes an ongoing collaboration with the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science to provide training in cybersecurity to members of the Quebec’s civil service, a highly customized hands-on program on AI applications on three continents for Ericsson, in partnership with the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute (AI2), and a new program on green aerospace developed in collaboration with members of the Concordia Institute of Aerospace Design and Innovation.
Innovative projects are also in the works with the Faculty of Fine Arts and Faculty of Arts and Science, such as the possibility of Recognition of Acquired Competencies (RAC) included in new short programs designed to accelerate response to workplace needs, and workplace accessibility and transition for experienced individuals.
The Centre for Executive and Professional Development will also include the offerings of Concordia Continuing Education and will eventually be responsible for the Réussir en français program. Currently run by the Département d’études francaises, it provides students resources to succeed in French.
In her role, Dunnigan will also direct the university’s programs and initiatives to enhance French-language opportunities for Concordia faculty and staff, and initiatives designed to help new faculty, staff and students integrate into Quebec society, in urban and regional environments.
Dunnigan had been the university’s AVP of lifelong learning since 2018, and executive director of CCE since 2015. “Isabel’s track record with CCE and, especially, her vision and passion for lifelong learning, collaboration and partnerships will ensure a smooth and successful transition to the new hub,” says Anne Whitelaw, Concordia’s provost and vice-president, academic.
“Under her guidance, the centre will consolidate shared services and expertise of the university’s schools and faculties to develop professional and French-language training.”
Whitelaw adds that Concordia is already a very French-friendly institution. “With current programs like Réussir en français, these new steps will only improve on our strong position,” she says.
“Today, more than 70 per cent of our students come from Quebec, 20 per cent of our international students have French as their mother tongue and 75 per cent of our student population speaks French at an intermediate or advanced level.”
The Centre for Executive and Professional Development will also further Concordia’s experiential learning strengths, Whitelaw points out.
“We’re unique in our focus on work-integrated learning. We already have several programs that support students honing their workplace skills,” she notes.
“Through the new centre, we will be able to work more closely with businesses and employers to advance students’ integration into the work milieu.”
Dunnigan expresses great optimism for the centre. “I look forward to having this opportunity to create something unique, working with internal and external stakeholders,” she says.
“We will develop projects promoting workplace French and professional development in response to Quebec society’s needs. We will provide learning opportunities to all, starting with our own talented and motivated students.”
“To better accomplish our goals, we will continue to develop our many partnerships and create new ones with external organizations, including professional bodies, community groups, other institutions of higher learning and government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and others,” she explains.
“The bureau de valorisation du français team will provide francisation opportunities for students, faculty members, staff and members of all communities by implementing numerous projects both in the city and in all regions of Quebec. This unit will allow us to tap into Concordia’s many outstanding resources and improve our capacity to respond to the needs of Quebec’s workforce,” Dunnigan says.
“We want to show that Concordia is a team player in Quebec’s global vision. We want to contribute to what Quebec society aims to be, become, protect and value.”