Dean, College of Continuing Education
Andy Cochrane joined Henson College as acting dean in 2000 and went on to become the inaugural dean of the Dalhousie University College of Continuing Education. Now in his second term, Mr. Cochrane continues to evolve and adapt the College’s program offerings to serve a diverse range of audiences.
Mr. Cochrane is committed to strengthening ties between the College and the Dalhousie as a whole, as well as with the community beyond the university. His focus on diversification of programming and audiences is strategically aligned with ensuring the operational stability of the College and Dalhousie’s commitment to serving society.
Read Mr. Cochrane's full profile
Since 2000, Andy Cochrane has presided over more than a decade and a half of significant change in what is now the Dalhousie University College of Continuing Education.
“There’s nothing static about what we do here,” says Mr. Cochrane, whose leadership began when the continuing education unit was still known as Henson College. “We’re constantly evolving to meet the needs of the university and the clientele we serve.”
Mr. Cochrane says the ever-changing landscape of continuing education is what keeps him engaged in his job. He points out that the same goes for his staff, many of whom, like him, have served with the College for many years.
“One of the things you notice here is that the average staff service is over 25 years. We have a lot of institutional memory here.”
That shared memory includes many highlights, not least of which is the physical amalgamation of five different offices into a single location. Creating physical proximity, says Mr. Cochrane, has helped the College establish a more coherent sense of culture and purpose in recent years.
A shared sense of culture has helped the College navigate a few sea changes within the university and the continuing education sector as a whole. Perhaps the most significant development is the diversification of programming offered by the College, as well as the diversity of the audiences it serves.
“We have in the past six or seven years really streamlined our activities into two primary focus areas,” Mr. Cochrane explains. “One is the traditional, mid-career learner audience–people who are actively engaged in life and are looking for an additional credential and an opportunity to move, career-wise. We help them prepare for that next stage in their lives.
“That’s the traditional bread and butter of continuing education.”
In addition to serving thousands of people in this population segment with a variety of programs, including distance education opportunities across the country and the globe, Mr. Cochrane and his team have also worked to develop a thriving Pathways Division, which includes several programs designed to prepare students for success at university
“Because of our attachment to Dalhousie and evolving strategies within the university, we’ve also been able to create a focal point that actually prepares students for entry and success into the institution,” he says. “We’ve really built that part of our business in the last five years or so.”
Mr. Cochrane cites the Transition Year Program for students of African and Indigenous descent and the University Preparation programs as key examples of how the College helps students aspiring to attend university obtain the necessary academic qualifications. In the case of University Preparation, students who have begun university but are looking to switch programs can use it to pick up pre-requisite courses they may not yet have completed.
The College also administers Refining Your Learning Skills for Academically Dismissed Students, a program that helps students who struggled in their first university improve their chances for success upon re-admittance.
Finally, Mr. Cochrane points to an increasingly robust suite of English as a Second Language (ESL) programming as evidence of the College’s ongoing evolution.
“We started that from zero about six years ago and we’ve seen a steady increase in enrolments” he says.” We have a great core of instructors.”
Mr. Cochrane says that, with its wide-ranging audience and diverse professional development and university-preparation programs, the College makes significant contributions to Dalhousie and communities beyond.
“Whether it’s a new hire that needs some more computer programming capability or someone who needs project management certification, where we add value people appreciate it,” he says. “We send hundreds of students into credit study every year, and that’s appreciated by the institution.
“One of the strategic elements of Dalhousie’s approach is service to the community, and we do that in a lot of ways.”