Leadership and Consultants

Rod Skinkle

Rod Skinkle

President & CEO, M.A.

Rod Skinkle

President & CEO, M.A.

President & CEO, M.A.

rod@academicagroup.com
ext. 206

Building upon his background in higher education student affairs research, Rod has led Academica Group to become a leading provider of higher education policy, consumer research and enrolment consulting with most of Canada’s leading universities and colleges coast-to-coast and growing Internationally.

Rod pioneered the development of research tools and studies for Canadian institutions and is the founder of the largest ongoing syndicated study of higher education consumers, the University College Applicant Study (UCAS). In addition to his overall leadership and executive responsibilities, Rod leads and is committed to maintaining a thriving market and social policy research division focused on higher education accessibility, student success, education and career goal development.

Rod holds a Diploma in Behavioural Science, Loyalist College, an Honours Degree in Psychology, The University of Waterloo, and a Master’s Degree in Applied Social Research, the University of Saskatchewan.

He has been an invited guest expert addressing trends in higher education on Canada AM, Report on Business Television, CBC, Maclean’s Magazine, Marketing Magazine, OECD in Paris, the Conference Board of Canada, and was a featured interview guest with University Affairs magazine along with Academica Group co-founder, Ken Steele.

Rod presents research and position papers to a wide range of policy/government groups (e.g. Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario, Council of Ontario Universities, Association of Community Colleges of Canada, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) and has published numerous studies in scholarly journals.

When not at the office, Rod has a passion for the open road on his motorcycle, and enjoys the serenity of the wilderness for camping and fishing.

Bruce Thompson

Bruce Thompson

Senior Vice-President, Operations

Bruce Thompson

Senior Vice-President, Operations

Senior Vice-President, Operations

bruce@academicagroup.com
ext. 228
skype: bruceacademica

 

Julie Peters

Julie Peters

Vice President, Research, Ph.D.

Julie Peters

Vice President, Research, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research, Ph.D.

julie@academicagroup.com
ext. 226
skype: julieacademica

Julie brings experience in both qualitative and quantitative research methods to her role as Vice President, Research. At Academica Group, Julie has planned, managed, and executed projects for HEQCO, Campus Stores Canada, the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars, and a wide range of postsecondary institutions. Her project experience spans across branding and marketing studies, policy analysis, and program feasibility.

Recently, she led a national study of student and faculty perceptions of digital learning materials, and she is a key contributor to research and analysis of faculty, student, and employer perspectives on, and experiences with, work-integrated learning (WIL). She has also been part of a collaborative research study exploring the labour market integration of internationally educated health professionals.

Julie has a special interest in Indigenous education and policy. She was a key organizer of the 2012 Indigenous Education Summit, has written reports on Aboriginal education in Canada and the U.S., and on Indigenous labour market outcomes and policy in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, has presented at numerous academic conferences, and is co-editor of four volumes on Aboriginal policy research. Prior to joining Academica Group she was an Assistant Director of the Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International, and an associate editor of the International Indigenous Policy Journal. Julie has also worked with Aboriginal communities. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for N’Amerind Friendship Centre, and as part of her work with N’Amerind has served on the Board of Directors of the Indigenous Education Coalition and the Fanshawe College Aboriginal Education Council.

In addition to her work at Academica Group, Julie has taught qualitative research methodology at the undergraduate level. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Western University. 

The aroma of Julie’s home baked sourdough bread often lingers through the Academica offices and is a welcome addition to many staff lunches.

 

Stefanie Ivan

Stefanie Ivan

Senior Consultant & Advisor, MS Ed.

Stefanie Ivan

Senior Consultant & Advisor, MS Ed.

Senior Consultant & Advisor, MS Ed.

stefanie@academicagroup.com

Stefanie is an accomplished senior leader in post-secondary education in Canada with a career that spans over 20 years. Known for building high functioning teams, promoting collaborative work environments, building consensus among diverse stakeholders and creating and maintaining effective work relationships, she is passionate and respected leader with a stellar track record of accomplishments.

With an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education, Stefanie began early in her career as a teacher—quoting Shakespeare, reading short stories aloud, and finding ways to engage her learners one-to-one was always a focus for her.

Given the opportunity to teach at Red Deer College where she had previously been a student and student leader, Stefanie eagerly made the transition from high school teacher to academic upgrading faculty, thus beginning her long career in post-secondary education.  Stefanie also worked at Red Deer College in a variety of other roles including staff and administration. She was also a member of their Board of Governors for three years. 

After leaving Red Deer College, Stefanie worked to improve the student experience through leading policy development, system enhancement and process review and development while Registrar and then Associate Vice President Student Services at MacEwan University.  During her time there, she also worked on a number of initiatives that assisted the institution in moving from a college to a degree granting institution and then a university. 

As a thought leader for strategic enrolment management (SEM) in Canada, Stefanie completed her Master’s Degree with a specialization in enrolment management in 2006 and became activity involved in the SEM community in North America.  She co-authored a chapter in SEM in Canada and has presented sessions on SEM in both the United States and Canada.  With Academica Group, Stefanie has partnered with institutions across Canada to help them develop and implement strategic enrolment management or related recruitment and retention plans.

Stefanie has also been a leader of both the Western Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (WARUCC--President, Vice President and Past President) and the Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC--Western Representative). 

In her spare time, Stefanie loves to garden, hang out on sunny beaches or read.  When asked about her favorite book, Stefanie indicates that "As a former English teacher, you can’t possibly expect me to have just one favorite book," but she will acknowledge that she is a fan of Canadian literature with a special nod to Margaret Lawrence and Alice Munro. 

Yves Y. Pelletier

Yves Y. Pelletier

Senior Consultant, Ph.D.

Yves Y. Pelletier

Senior Consultant, Ph.D.

Senior Consultant, PhD

yves@academicagroup.com

Yves Pelletier is a seasoned, innovative and bilingual leader in the field of higher education with over 18 years of work experience across many provincial jurisdictions. Yves was previously the Assistant Deputy Minister for post-secondary education in New Brunswick. He has also held leadership roles at the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (now Employment and Social Development Canada).

His experience in education is broad, focusing on issues like strengthening transitions to and success in post-secondary education for under-represented groups, notably first-generation students and Aboriginal learners; designing more effective student financial assistance policies and programs; strengthening the indigenization and internationalization of post-secondary institutions; leading program mix and program reviews; and leading evidence-based policy and program development. Many of these positions provided a singular focus: strengthening educational outcomes in Canada.

Yves holds undergraduate degrees from Laurentian University and the University of Ottawa, a Master’s degree from the University of Ottawa as well as a PhD from Queen’s University. Yves serves on the board of the Canadian Career Development Foundation, which works to advance career development and the capacity of the profession to respond with compassion and skill to all clients and stakeholders in an ever-changing work environment. He is a member of the executive committee of the Laurentian University Alumni Association. He is also the regional chair for New Brunswick for the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference. He previously served on the board or committees of the following organizations: the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada; the Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training; the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission; the Atlantic Provinces Community College Consortium; and the Atlantic Education International.

Paul Merner

Paul Merner

Senior Consultant

Paul Merner

Senior Consultant

Senior Consultant

paul@academicagroup.com

Paul retired in 2012 from the position of Associate Vice President for Strategic Enrolment Management at Camosun College after more than thirty years in postsecondary education, most at a senior management level. While at Camosun, his responsibilities included Strategic Enrolment Management, Student Services, Marketing & Recruitment, Library, Teaching & Learning Centre, Faculty Development, Program Review, Online Education, Educational Research, and all forms of Planning.

Since that time, Paul has maintained a consultancy, partly in association with Academica Group, working in the interrelated areas of Strategic Enrolment Management; Systems, Data & Analytics; and Organization Development & Planning.

Several of Paul’s areas of expertise pertain directly to this project and include:

  • Strategic Enrolment Management
    • Enrolment Analysis
    • Enrolment Plan Development
    • Marketing & Recruitment
    • SEM Systems
    • Data & Analytics
    • Student Success, Retention & Completion
    • Data & Analytics
      • All aspects of Institutional and Educational Research
      • Data Development, Systems and Warehousing
      • KPIs, Balanced Scorecard, Accountability Systems
      • Modeling, including Enrolment Plans, Program Cost, Budget Allocation, Workload, FTE, Facilities
      • Large Scale Inductive Analysis (Data Mining)
      • Planning
        • Strategic (Vision-driven, Thematic, Scenarios etc.)
        • Enrolment Assessment and Planning

Environmental Scanning

  • Education Plan Development
  • Resource Planning, Budget Development, Analytics & Metrics
  • Facilities & Campus Plan Support and Metrics
  • Unit and Functional Plans
  • Program & Service Review
    • Custom or Standardized Process – Assessment, Planning, Implementation
    • Appreciative Enquiry, Quality Processes, Balanced Scorecard etc.
    • Facilitation, Data & KPIs, Report Writing, Implementation Plans

Paul largely designed and led the Enrolment Management, Program Assessment and Planning functions at Camosun College, integrating data-driven analytics, program and intake planning and monitoring, and program assessment and renewal functions across some 90 programs and a $100 M operational budget.

Paul’s other areas of expertise include education systems, survey research, organization development, facilitation, and project management.

Kristine Smalcel Pederson

Kristine Smalcel Pederson

Senior Consultant, EdD

Kristine Smalcel Pederson

Senior Consultant, EdD

kristine@academicagroup.com

Kristine has 20+ years of comprehensive higher education experience working with a variety of Canadian colleges, university-colleges, and universities, as well as contributing to the developing eras of two new university-title universities in Western Canada. This work provided Kristine with amazing and unique experience in areas such as academic policy and governance development, as well as full-scale people, technology, policy, infrastructure planning and re-organization.

In the case of Thompson Rivers University, Kristine’s ground-level experience included significant relocation and re-staffing challenges while designing and deploying a leading practice enrolment services strategy, and merging two separate ERP systems. The MacEwan University experience included business intelligence and IT governance design and implementation, along with institutional student recruitment and orientation renewal.

Kristine brings her highly developed skills in process design, project management, human resources management, and change management into play with her combination of enthusiastic and successful big-picture planning and implementation, and her attention to details. Kristine earned a research-based Doctor of Education in Higher Education degree from the University of Calgary (2015) and two degrees in history from the University of Alberta (Master of Arts, 1994, and Bachelor of Arts, with Distinction, 1990). Kristine’s ongoing interest in combining academic and professional interests is reflected in her research-analyst participation in a current qualitative SSHRC research grant project that is examining instructor learning and how institutions support vocational instructors in the workplace.

Kristine’s education, professional training, and work experience underlie her strong ability in both qualitative and quantitative research approaches. As an enrolment management specialist, Kristine is skilled in using evidence-based decision-making, yet she also has a developed interest in subtler nuances in our work. She is also known for her intuitive understanding of and successful efforts with organizational culture, change, and the interpretative meanings people use to approach their work in higher education.

Kristine’s home base is Calgary, Alberta, and she spends much of her free time at the Olympic Oval and at other indoor and outdoor Canadian skating venues -- volunteering, and supporting her family and extended family of developing to elite skaters. Once in a while she straps on some long-blades herself! Kristine is currently serving on the Board of Directors for Alberta Speed Skating as the Vice-President of Communications and is looking forward to supporting provincial clubs as well as several national and World Cup events in Calgary this winter.

Alison Pickrell

Alison Pickrell

Senior Consultant

Alison Pickrell

Senior Consultant

Senior Consultant

alison@academicagroup.com

Alison Pickrell is a skilled and energetic professional with 30 years of experience in the postsecondary sector.  Alison was born in Saskatchewan, raised in the USA, Europe and Canada, completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan, and a Masters of Post-Secondary Education at Memorial University.  Her graduate work focused on student retention, with a specific emphasis on barriers to Aboriginal student success at Canadian postsecondary institutions.  Recent professional positions include Provincial Registrar (2003-2006) and Associate Vice President Student Affairs (2006-2011) at the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (now Saskatchewan Polytech), and Director of Enrolment & Student Affairs 2011-2017) and Assistant Vice-Provost Strategic Enrolment Management (2017-present) at the University of Saskatchewan.

Alison is recognized provincially and nationally as an expert in student mobility, education credential portability, and learner pathway creation.  She has had an instrumental role in developing a culture of transfer credit within the Province of Saskatchewan, first as a member of the committee that developed the proposal for the province’s first on-line transfer guide and structure for the Council on Admissions & Transfer (SaskCAT) in the mid-2000’s, and more recently as chair of the Province’s Transfer Credit & Learner Pathways Working Group.  She currently sits as the University of Saskatchewan’s representative on the newly formed Saskatchewan Transfer Credit and Learner Pathway Council.  At the national level, she is beginning her second term on the Pan-Canadian Council on Admissions & Transfer Credit (PCCAT) Board of Directors, and she has been actively involved with the Canadian Information Centre for International Credential Evaluation’s (CICIC) Pan-Canadian Quality Assessment Framework Steering Committee and their Terminology Guide Working Group. 

She has significant experience in both the university and technical college systems leading strategic enrolment management projects, developing institution-wide enrolment plans, undertaking education program assessments and support service reviews, developing and implementing institutional policy within postsecondary governance frameworks, and leading large-scale technology implementation projects and initiatives.  Alison has worked internationally as a recruitment professional, developing recruitment strategy for various markets, initiating strategic partnerships, and participating in international development projects.  Alison co-chaired SIAST’s Aboriginal Student Success Strategy project and was instrumental in authoring and launching their 5-year Aboriginal Student Achievement Plan.

Alison was a member of the Executive of the Western Association of Registrars of the Universities and Colleges of Canada (WARUCC), and she is an active member and frequent conference presenter for a number of professional organizations in North America such as the Association of Registrars of Universities and Colleges of Canada (ARUCC), the Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS), the Canadian Bureau of International Education (CBIE), and the NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Karen Lee

Karen Lee

Operations Manager

Karen Lee

Operations Manager

Operations Manager 

karen@academicagroup.com
ext. 201
skype: karenacademica

Karen applies her organizational prowess to both the administrative and research sides of Academica Group. For more than a decade, she has worked in various positions including Office Manager, Field Operations Manager and Client Relations.

During her time with Academica, she has been involved in the design and management of a call centre, coordinated innumerable successful focus groups and helped move research from paper surveys to online data collection. With her years and experience at Academica she owns the phrase: When all else fails, ask Karen.

Karen holds a post-graduate certificate in Corporate Communication and Public Relations and a diploma in Recreation Leadership.

Country living is her contentment, this finds her active in sports and a love for camping and outdoors.

Brittany Ally

Brittany Ally

Client Services Coordinator

Brittany Ally

Client Services Coordinator

Client Services Coordinator

brittany@academicagroup.com
ext. 210
skype: brittanyacademica

Brittany joined Academica Group in February 2009 as Field Operations Assistant to assist with various research projects including managing a call centre and coordinating numerous focus groups. In 2011 Brittany moved into her current role managing Academica Careers and is the point of contact for clients in managing their career ads and related administration.

While Brittany’s main focus is on Academica Careers she also manages Academica’s StudentVu Panel and Academica’s conferences. Her attention to detail and organizational skills has lead her to organize with great success Academica’s Summit in 2011 (Halifax and Vancouver) and the Indigenous Education Summit (Niagara-on-the-Lake) in 2012.

Brittany graduated from Fanshawe College with a diploma in Business. She has also completed a course on coursera.org from Stanford University and looks forward to many more.

Brittany loves practising yoga and healthy living as well as all forms of art and enjoys the outdoors, especially with her family.

Chris Hall

Chris Hall

Syndicate Research Manager

Chris Hall

Syndicate Research Manager

Syndicate Research Manager

chris@academicagroup.com
ext. 204
skype: chrishallacademica

Chris is a graduate of the Research Analyst Post-Graduate Program at Georgian College, and also holds an Honours degree in Political Science from Laurentian University. Since starting with Academica in 2006 as an intern, Chris’ work has consisted of research and data analysis with a focus now on the company’s syndicate studies, the UCAS, ADS and DNA. His current role includes managing the University of Waterloo’s quantitative market studies (NCA and ISS) as well as many other social research studies.   

When Chris is not crunching data at his desk, you’ll probably find him swinging a golf club or playing hockey in one of London’s recreational leagues, and enjoying quality ‘dad’ time with his family.

 

Drew Pihlainen

Drew Pihlainen

Senior Researcher

Drew Pihlainen

Senior Researcher

Senior Researcher

drew@academicagroup.com
ext. 202

Drew is a Senior Researcher with Academica. Previously he spent 5 years at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan Campus, where he had the opportunity to help build and grow a relatively new institutional research office. As a senior analyst, he supported a variety of projects related to strategic enrolment management, institutional reporting and student surveys. He also became involved with BC institutional research and planning (BCIRP) and served as Vice-President and President of the Pacific Northwest Association for Institutional Research and Planning (PNAIRP).

 

Alanna Sawatzky

Alanna Sawatzky

Senior Researcher

Alanna Sawatzky

Senior Researcher

Senior Researcher

alanna@academicagroup.com
ext. 214
skype: alannaacademica

Alanna joined Academica in May 2012 and quickly established herself as a guru at making sense of complex information and pulling out key results that are relevant to client goals. She is a master at combing through secondary research to add additional context to projects and plays an intricate role with various program feasibility studies and assisting with note taking focus groups.

Alanna attended Wilfrid Laurier for her undergrad degree in Communication Studies, followed by Niagara College for a Post-Grad Certificate in Public Relations and later completed her Master’s in Communication and New Media.

Alanna enjoys spending weekends with her fiance and yellow lab at their family cottage canoeing, swimming and has recently taken up fishing.

Philip Glennie

Philip Glennie

Communications & Partnerships Manager, Ph.D.

Philip Glennie

Communications & Partnerships Manager, Ph.D.

Communications & Partnerships Manager, PhD

phil@academicagroup.com
ext. 212

Philip Glennie is Communications & Partnerships Manager at Academica. His role includes serving as Managing Editor of Academica's daily Top Ten. He consults on business strategy and target marketing, improves the Top Ten experience using analytics, and identifies and pursues opportunities that show a clear mutual benefit to Academica and its partners.

In 2011, Phil completed his PhD in English Literature at Western University. He is an avid tennis fan (and to a lesser extent, player). 

Claire Henderson

Claire Henderson

Senior Researcher, M.A

Claire Henderson

Senior Researcher, M.A

Senior Researcher, M.A 

claire@academicagroup.com

ext. 224

Claire is currently a senior researcher at Academica Group where she works closely with others to conduct custom research projects for clients on a variety of topics, such as strategic enrolment management, brand positioning, and evaluation.

Prior to her position here Claire worked as a Data Analysis Coordinator for the Ministry of Education, where she interacted with community partners and stakeholders on a regular basis, consulting and collaborating on diverse projects. Claire has considerable experience creating and disseminating evaluation plans, data collection tools, reports, and infographics.

Claire holds a M.A. in Sociology from Western University and has over 5 year of experience working in a research setting. She has assisted with projects from multiple disciplines including psychology, sociology, and marketing.  

Rachel Dengate

Rachel Dengate

StudentVu Coordinator & Research Associate, M.A.

Rachel Dengate

StudentVu Coordinator & Research Associate, M.A.

StudentVu Coordinator & Research Associate, M.A.

rachel@academicagroup.com
skype: rachel.academica

In her primary role of StudentVu Leader, Rachel Dengate manages the StudentVu Panel, designing questionnaires and analyzing the responses of 5000 postsecondary student panelists. Rachel also conducts research as a member of the research team and provides general support around the office. Rachel started with Academica as an intern in 2013, and has been involved in several areas of the company.

Rachel Dengate has an M.A. in English Literature from McMaster University, and an Honours B.A. in English Literature and Psychology from Western University (UWO). When not at work, Rachel can be found reading or painting.