Centennial program celebrates 30 years

A unique college program now headquartered in East York is marking its 30th anniversary, and friends of the program just gave it a birthday party.

Centennial College’s Corporate Communications and Public Relations (CCPR) program was created at the now-demolished Warden Woods campus, and is now housed at Centennial’s school of communications on Carlaw Avenue.

A group of students was assigned organizing and hosting the Nov. 24 celebration as a practical exercise for their events management coursework. Staff and students, professors and coordinators all gathered at the Six Degrees nightclub at Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, to talk about the illustrious past and the hopeful future of the program.

Gary Schlee, now retired, was the program’s first co-ordinator, back in 1980. Schlee said that while he’s proud of where the program started, the birthday is a little uncomfortable.

“When you realize the program’s been around for thirty 30 years, it’s a little daunting,” he said. “I’m very proud. This program was the first in Canada with a particular focus on internal communications.”

Barry Waite, the current program co-ordinator, said the anniversary of so many years is a testament to the strength and influence of the program in a constantly changing industry.

“I think it shows how much of a rich history we have in education and public relations, which is a growing field,” he said. “After 30 years, this program continues to grow and remains a leader in social media… and it helps Centennial and the Centre for Creative Communications be recognized as a leader in all aspects of media and communications.”

Waite said the program continues to lead because leaders are what it turns out. The graduates never fail to impress the staff who teach them, he said, and the program is in for a bright future.

“It’s great. We have so many grads. I found out three grads have jobs at my old PR agency. I’d like to see the program grow larger and stronger, but at the same time we want to preserve who we are. We fit really well into the school and there is so much innovation happening.”

Grads attending the birthday party couldn’t say enough about the program. Kade Davis, a recent graduate hired out of his internship, said the program prepared him to succeed in his internship and eventually attain a job.

“The program gives a really good basis for something to start on when you’re going into the industry afterward,” he said. “It covers so many different things, when you do find an internship it doesn’t really matter what it specifies in, you’ll be more than prepared to do it.”

Nate Horowitz, dean of Centennial’s communications programs, said the alumni “rave about the program and what they got out of it,” whenever they run into faculty.

He said he feels the CCPR program at Centennial is doing all the right things.

“This program — and I know because I’ve looked at other programs — is the best in Ontario in this field,” he said.