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Bachelor of bagpipes? UPEI and College of Piping to collaborate

Jamie MacKay, chair of the board of directors at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, left, relaxes after signing a memorandum of understanding with the University of Prince Edward Island March 13 at the college. With him are Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart,alison
Summerside-Wilmot MLA Chris Palmer, Evangeline-Miscouche MLA Sonny Gallant and UPEI Dean of Arts Neb Kujundzic.
Jamie MacKay, chair of the board of directors at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada, left, relaxes after signing a memorandum of understanding with the University of Prince Edward Island March 13 at the college. With him are Summerside Mayor Basil Stewart, Summerside-Wilmot MLA Chris Palmer, Evangeline-Miscouche MLA Sonny Gallant and UPEI Dean of Arts Neb Kujundzic. - Alison Jenkins

Some joint projects could start in September

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. —

Two Island institutions will work together so more students can get exposure to Celtic culture.

Representatives from the University of Prince Edward Island and the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada met Wednesday to start the process of linking the institutions.

A new agreement will let university students access some of the Summerside-based college’s expertise and, likewise, the college may someday offer degree credits. It is possible some joint offerings could start as soon as September.

“It’s just a beginning,” said Jamie MacKay, chair of the College of Piping board of directors.

MacKay is keen for the two schools to work together – it’s something that’s been discussed over the years, but he called earlier discussions a “light collaboration.”

The college’s hard-earned reputation for world-class performance and instruction has intrigued the university in the past, but there was no space to collaborate before, said MacKay.

The new state-of-the-art Celtic Performing Arts Centre has increased the college’s appeal.

“UPEI could use it for a lot of things — seminars, all kinds of various courses, the symphony. It’s pretty limitless when you think about it,” said MacKay. “My goal is to make sure that the college is lasting, the tradition is held up and the college is sustainable and continues in the future. Times are changing and the college has to change with (it)."

MacKay and the board of directors don’t want to lose what the school already has – top-notch instructors and programs.

“We’re looking to maintain their curriculum and their efforts to promote Celtic arts — not just music but performance, dancing, etc. We’re planning to add more programming in co-ordination with the music department at UPEI.”
-Neb Kujundzic

Neb Kujundzic, dean of the Faculty of Arts at UPEI, wants to introduce more students to what the college has to offer.

“We’re looking to maintain their curriculum and their efforts to promote Celtic arts — not just music but performance, dancing, etc. We’re planning to add more programming in co-ordination with the music department at UPEI.”

Kujundzic can see an opportunity for Acadian and indigenous music, creative movement, history and culture.

“Many of these have not been explored all that much in education. We’re hoping to be leaders,” he said.

The next steps will be to carefully develop a business plan for the future of the collaboration, said Kujundzic.

“We need to take small steps to see how this integration will work and go from there."

Summerside-Wilmot MLA Chris Palmer called the partnership "tremendous". He said he hopes there will someday be a Summerside campus of UPEI that can grant degrees.

“There’s a lot of synergy here, there’s a lot of good things in Summerside,” he said. “They really think this will be a unique offering, not just in P.E.I., but right across Canada.”

The memorandum of understanding signed in Summerside on Wednesday signals the start of the collaboration.

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