Stepping Aside After a 30-Year Post-Secondary Career
After more than a decade of dedicated post-secondary leadership, Selkirk College President Angus Graeme has announced plans to step down in May 2022.
Since assuming the role in 2011, Graeme has helped guide the institution through more than ten years of steady growth, numerous challenges and opportunities, and expansion of programs and services for students. Graeme’s current five-year contract expires this spring, but he has agreed to stay on an extra year to help provide post-pandemic recovery leadership in the region. The Selkirk College Board of Governors voted last month to extend Graeme’s contract by a year.
Selkirk College President Angus Graeme congratulates a graduating student at Convocation 2018. After a 30-year career at the local college that started as a part-time instructor, Graeme has announced that will stay on for one more year at the helm.
“It was important to me to provide the Board ample time to consult widely while undertaking a thoughtful and comprehensive search for a new president,” Graeme says. “It will be an exciting opportunity to recruit someone with a deep understanding of Selkirk College’s mission for students and a vision for the indispensable contribution that accessible post-secondary education makes to the socio-economic vibrancy of our amazing communities. I absolutely love my job, but will be ready next Spring to step aside to create space for new vision and ideas for our beloved college.”
Post-Secondary Career Started in Classroom
A professional forester who moved to the West Kootenay from the Lower Mainland in 1990, Graeme first entered the Selkirk College community as a short-term contract instructor in the Forest Technology Program in 1992. He went on to teach for another 12 years before stepping into the administration side of the college serving as school chair, dean and vice president. When former Selkirk College President Marilyn Luscombe left in 2011 for New Brunswick Community College, Graeme was appointed as interim president where he filled the role until successfully competing for the position later that year.
Since becoming president, Graeme has placed focus on supporting what he refers to as “the community college movement” in Canada. By design, community colleges since the early 1960s have been fundamental to the democratization and accessibility of post-secondary education, and technical and professional skill development across the country.
“In the over 50 years since, institutions like Selkirk College continue to be integral to socio-economic vitality, advancement of social justice, development of civil society and the sustainability of rural Canada,” says Graeme. “It’s in our DNA to meet people where they are at and to be passionate about their success in college and in life. Ninety-five percent of the population in Canada lives within 50 kilometres of a college campus or learning centre. That statistic always amazes me. Even in the age of technology, we’ve learned this past year how important access and bringing people together to learn is such a critical aspect of well-being in our communities.”
The number of highlights and accomplishments during his 30-year career at Selkirk College is significant, but Graeme says he is most proud of being part of such a wonderful community of students, educators, support staff and alumni.
“Every day I am so privileged to work alongside innovative, thoughtful, hard-working and insightful people, who make going to work each day so inspiring,” he says. “That’s the part I’ll really miss when Spring 2022 rolls around.”
Search Begins for New President
The focus of the Board of Governors in the coming months will be to begin the search for a new president and prepare the college for the transition that will take place next year.
“The impact of Angus’s leadership and dedication to Selkirk College cannot be overstated,” says Scott Weatherford, chair of the Board of Governors. “He brings limitless excitement to every initiative, genuine care to every personal interaction, and a deep passion for Selkirk’s mission. Though it’s difficult to imagine post-secondary in our region without his leadership, we respect Angus’s decision, and appreciate the extended time he has given for the Board to find a new president. We will now get to work on a thorough and inclusive search process, while ensuring that all the great work being done at Selkirk College to build remarkable futures today and tomorrow continues.”
As Selkirk College helps lead the region through the post-pandemic recovery and renewal in the days ahead, Graeme emphasizes that his work is far from over. With his decision made to step away in 15 months, the 57-year-old is energized and committed to leaving the institution in a place that continues to focus on its core values of community, access, respect and excellence.
“I have been a part of the Selkirk College community for almost 30 years, so it is going to be a difficult transition for me,” Graeme says. “I am looking forward to a bit of a career shift next year and feel the time is right to step away, but Selkirk College will always be part of me. I know that in the coming years that faculty and staff will continue to provide students a remarkable and life changing post-secondary experience.”