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Canadian Studies CONNECT Program Renewed and Expanded

PLATTSBURGH, NY __ The Center for the Study of Canada at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh has announced the renewal and expansion of the CONNECT program.

Dr. Christopher Kirkey and Dr. Andre Senecal announce the renewal and expansion of CONNECT Launched in October 2003, CONNECT is a national initiative designed to identify, recruit, orient and mentor new Canadianists for the American higher education community. The renewal of CONNECT for the period 2006-2009 will ensure the continued vibrancy of Canadian Studies in the United States.  To support this effort, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with the Government of Canada has committed annual support of $105,000 (CAD) complemented by a $75,000 annual commitment from SUNY Plattsburgh through The Center for the Study of Canada.

In recognition of the success that CONNECT has achieved, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and SUNY Plattsburgh have recently entered into an agreement to expand the focus and scope of CONNECT. 

Throughout 2006-2007, CONNECT will undertake national feasibility studies in Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom to evaluate and determine if the working principles underpinning CONNECT can serve to benefit the growth and sustainment of Canadian Studies in these European nations. 

As part of this project, CONNECT will table formal assessment reports with the Government of Canada and present all findings and recommendations at the 2007 German, Italian and British conferences on Canadian Studies. To support these activities, Foreign Affairs and International Trade is providing additional support of $55,000 (CAD) to The Center for the Study of Canada.

The announcement of the renewal and expansion of the CONNECT Program was made during a news conference on Wednesday at The Center for the Study of Canada.  Remarks were offered by Dr. John Ettling, president of SUNY Plattsburgh; Dr. Robert Golden, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs at SUNY Plattsburgh; Jean Labrie, head of Canadian Studies in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade with the Government of Canada; Dr, Michael Hawes, executive director of the Canada-U.S. Fulbright Program; Dr. Christopher Kirkey, director of The Center for the Study of Canada at SUNY Plattsburgh; and Dr. Andre Senecal, director of Canadian Studies at the University of Vermont.  Kirkey and Senecal are the executive directors of CONNECT.

Ettling said that the program in the last three years has improved the existing education programs in the United States for the study of Canada by training and informing more educators of America's neighbor to the North.

"We're pleased and gratified to have the CONNECT Program extended for another three years. This is evidence that the Canadian government appreciates our efforts that we have made in strengthening and increasing Canadian Studies scholars in the United States," said Ettling.

Kirkey is very pleased with the program's success in its first three years.

"To date, we have more than 200 participants in the CONNECT mentoring program," said Kirkey. "It is clear by any measure that these individuals are contributing to the rejuvenation and sustainment of Canadian Studies on a national scale."

Senecal said, "This initiative has and will continue to successfully contribute toward the institutionalization of Canadian Studies in American higher education. It has been a distinct pleasure to champion this national program."

The success of CONNECT has been chronicled in a variety of sources, including The New York Times , The Christian Science Monitor , The National Post and Newsweek .

The innovative program focuses on four related elements: identification, recruitment, orientation and mentoring of new Canadianists in the U.S.

The CONNECT program first identifies - through a series of numerous search mechanisms, including planning and convening workshops at Canadian consulates - prospective Canadianists across the country.  Target audiences include graduate students (especially advanced doctoral candidates), junior faculty members and mid-career academics who are seeking to broaden their existing teaching responsibilities and scholarly research.

Several hundred candidates undergo an intensive screening to determine their applicability and fit for the CONNECT Program. Each year, approximately 70 individuals are contacted and join CONNECT. All CONNECT participants are placed, based on their respective academic profiles, in a permanent individualized mentoring program. They receive information on scholarly publications in their respective Canadian Studies disciplines, announcements on grant opportunities, forthcoming conferences, seminars, symposia and colloquia, and related professional development opportunities.

Twenty CONNECT Program participants are also selected each year to participate in a week-long summer training seminar.  The seminar, convened in Ottawa, is designed to introduce new Canadianists to a wide range of topical Canadian public policy issues while simultaneously providing briefings on and access to leading academics, presidents and executive directors of regional, national and international Canadian Studies associations and organizations as well as government practitioners in the field of Canadian Studies.
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