Selkirk College Inks President Angus Graeme for Five More Years
After a successful five years at the helm of Selkirk College, President Angus Graeme has been given a vote of confidence by the Board of Governors to continue his leadership of post-secondary education in the West Kootenay and Boundary.
The Board announced that Graeme has signed another five year contract to continue in his role until 2021.
“The Board looks forward to another very successful five year term for Angus and his leadership team,” says Board of Governors Chair Sharel Wallace. “In his first five year term, Angus oversaw the securing of funding for the upgrades to Nelson’s Silver King Campus, increased enrollment in both domestic and international students, and the introduction of several new and innovative programs. Angus works tirelessly to raise awareness of what Selkirk College has to offer and the positive impact the college has on local communities.”
Taking the reins from former president Marilyn Luscombe in 2011, Graeme is energized to continue his work leading Selkirk College into the next five years.
“I’m honoured to continue in this position and look forward to accomplishing more great results with our faculty and staff for our students and the region in the coming years,” says Graeme.
Committed to the Community College Philosophy
Graeme moved to Nelson in 1990 from the Lower Mainland to work locally as a professional forester. In 1992, he took a short term contract teaching in the Forest Technology Program at Selkirk College’s Castlegar Campus.
“I was fully expecting to finish my eight-month contract and go back to private practice,” says Graeme.
It didn’t quite work out that way. Graeme ended up teaching for another 12 years while also working into various administrative roles. In the years since leaving the teaching side of the college, he has served in stints as school chair, dean and vice president.
Graeme’s leadership continued to be recognized when Luscombe took up her presidency at New Brunswick Community College. Graeme was appointed as interim president where he filled the role until successfully competing for the position in 2011.
“I love the vision and philosophy of the rural community college,” says Graeme. “Institutions like ours are fundamental to the economy, civil society, and sustainability of rural Canada. I believe we are a critical part of the fabric of the West Kootenay and Boundary region.”
When Graeme moved into the role of president, Selkirk College was dealing with the challenges stemming from shrinking revenues and declining enrolments.
“Initially we had some difficult decisions with cuts to programs and services to work through, but once the creativity of our faculty and staff was harnessed and we let the vision of Selkirk College drive everything else including the budget, we really started to see wonderful shifts happening,” says Graeme. “We focused on enrolments, on renewing or creating new progressive and high quality programs, and supporting great teaching and the student experience. Our mission statement is a simple guide: inspiring learning, transformed lives, service to our communities.”
A Strong Future for Post-Secondary in the Region
The foundation Graeme has helped lay over the last few years has started to pay dividends for learners and those responsible for delivering relevant education. Examples of new programs and initiatives that helped provide new vibrancy to Selkirk College include Rural Pre-Medicine and Unarmed Civilian Peacekeeping. The college has forged more partnerships and pathways in B.C., Canada, and globally for credential completion and now sees many students coming to the college having already completed degrees and diplomas elsewhere to round out their qualifications.
There are expanded services to support students to successfully transition to careers and employment. An increased importance on applied learning and innovation is the goal of the college’s recently opened Applied Research & Innovation Centre. Newly signed educational partnership agreements with regional First Nations and Métis governments set goals for reconciliation efforts, provide supports for indigenous students, and develop more relevant programming for the college as a whole. And investments by the provincial government and industry partners in the college’s infrastructure will see major capital works in the Silver King Campus in Nelson, and significant improvements to classroom spaces, technology and connectivity at all campuses and sites.
Heading into its 50th year of fulfilling its mission to the region that voted by referendum to create a community college, the classrooms and hallways at all Selkirk College campuses are now more utilized than ever. It’s that growth that will be one of the main priorities Graeme and his leadership team face in the next five years.
“Growth is fantastic, but you can never lose sight of quality,” says Graeme. “If you grow too rapidly and you are not resolved to maintain quality, then the fact that you are larger than you were five years ago doesn’t matter. Students will simply go elsewhere.”
Graeme is confident that Selkirk College is heading in the right direction and is looking forward to helping it flourish.
“What has been so rewarding for me is working with such talented faculty and staff, and to be around such inspiring and fantastic students in all of our over 60 programs and disciplines, and in a beautiful part of the province,” says Graeme. “From that very first day of teaching until now, spending my day supporting someone else to learn, develop, mature or become more competent and confident in themselves… that’s what I really enjoy.
“Everything else I do is putting it all together in the spirit of that.”