Lethbridge College at 60: College presidents

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W. J. ‘‘Jim’’ Cousins

Lethbridge Junior College Dean

{ 1957-1963 }

 

“There are people who dream and there are those who catch a vision and are able to breathe life into it. William James “Jim” Cousins, the first person to hold the position of chief executive officer at Lethbridge College, was one of the latter.”

So starts the history of Lethbridge College presidents written to celebrate the college’s 35th anniversary. Cousins, a Welsh-born history teacher at Lethbridge Collegiate Institute, was the first person hired to work at the college – to teach history – and was later named the college’s first chief executive officer.

Cousins accepted the position with no release time for administration and no extra salary. In fact, since he was on the same salary grid as the other teachers and had less experience than some of them, he made less money than three of the teachers who worked for him. According to the college’s history, “The Board felt the honour of the position was sufficient payment for the job.”

“My work mostly was public accountability,” Cousins would later say. “I had to tell them what the college was about. I had to sound as if I knew a lot of things even if I didn’t. ‘We were the first that ever burst into that silent sea’ because we didn’t know where to start or what to do.”

The Lethbridge Herald praised his appointment to the position: “The work of the chief executive officer of an established college or university is probably about 75 per cent administration and 25 per cent public relations – all of it, of course, within an academic framework. In a new institution, especially a community college, good public relations are probably even more essential.

“The personality of the chief officer, the enthusiasm he shows toward his task, and his ability to win the respect of the students, the loyalty of staff and board members, and the cooperation of the public will have a great deal to do with the success or failure of the college. For these reasons, we applaud the nomination of Mr. W.J. Cousins as acting dean of the new Lethbridge Junior College.”

**

Carl B. Johnson

{ Principal, 1963-1967 }

Carl Johnson led the school during the time that the University of Lethbridge came into being. While initially a time of turmoil, as founders had a vision of having both a university and a community college as part of the same institution, in the end, the splitting of the college and university ushered in a new era in educational opportunities that perhaps could never have existed within the old structure.

 

Dr. Charles D. Stewart

{ 1967-1975 }

Dr. Charles Stewart was praised for his ability to galvanize people and for convincing them that the college was important, and he was known as a good financial manager who was not only able to eliminate the deficit the college had acquired in its early years but create a surplus without shortchanging the quality of education.

 

Donald W. Anderson

{ 1976-1979 }

Donald Anderson came to Lethbridge after serving 38 years as Principal of the Kingston campus of the St. Lawrence College of Applied Arts and Technology. During his tenure, long-term institutional plans were developed, architectural reports were drawn up, and funding was in place for the trades and technologies wing, as well as the second phase of residences.

 

Les Talbot

{ 1979-1990 }

Les Talbot’s leadership provided direction during an era of facility and educational expansion. During his time as president, the campus developed from a series of unrelated buildings into an attractive and unified campus, and the academic programs expanded to meet the needs of the community.

 

Dr. Donna J. Allan

{ 1990-2005 }

Dr. Donna Allan was the first woman to hold the position of President at Lethbridge College, and the second woman in the province of Alberta to hold that position at technical institutes, universities and community colleges. She was a passionate advocate of lifelong learning, as she continued to further her formal education throughout her life and encouraged others to do the same.

 

Dr. Tracy L. Edwards

{ 2005-2012 }

Dr. Tracy Edwards left a legacy of advocacy and innovation after her seven years as president, an era which saw the college renamed and rebranded, the Cousins Building renovated, the environmentally-friendly Kodiak House opened, and community and industry support of the college expanded. In addition, she helped lay the groundwork for the launch of the much-needed new trades and technologies facility, which will open this fall.

 

Dr. Paula Burns

{ 2013-present }

Dr. Paula Burns is known as a collaborative leader who invests her commitment, passion and energy to advance education and to support and create a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and staff. Like others who held the position, she is a lifelong learner and appreciates the many opportunities she has to interact with students, employees, industry partners and the community at large.

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