New Selkirk College vice presidents Kerry Clarke (left) and John Kincaid (right) arrived at their posts in November. The new additions to the college’s leadership team will help guide the direction of post-secondary in the region. (Selkirk College)

New Selkirk College VPs committed to student-first philosophy

Selkirk College’s leadership team has welcomed two new vice presidents.

CASTLEGAR — Selkirk College’s leadership team has welcomed two new vice presidents who are both relishing the opportunity to help guide the region’s post-secondary into the future.

Vice President of College Services Kerry Clarke and Vice President of Students & Advancement John Kincaid arrived at Selkirk College in November. The new additions help lead two-thirds of all departments at the college.

“We’re very fortunate to have these two knowledgeable and passionate leaders join our team,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme. “Both Kerry and John come from solid backgrounds in post-secondary and will be able to use their skills to make the experience for learners and the ultimate outcomes that much more successful.”

As they settle into their new roles and start to assess the task ahead, both men share the same philosophy on post-secondary at the college level.

“Students are at the core of what we do and we want to maintain that through every decision we make,” says Kincaid, who arrived to Selkirk College from the University of Regina where he was Director of Enrolment Services.

“We always have to ask the question: how does it impact the student and the student experience? That’s been my philosophy since starting my career in post-secondary and that will continue to be my philosophy moving forward.”

Kincaid’s new colleague echoes the sentiment.

“We need to continue to be completely student-first and student-focused, it’s our core reason for being here,” says Clarke, who joined Selkirk College after a successful stint at Northwest Community College in Terrace where he was Director of Facilities & Ancillary Services.

A former police officer in London, England and coroner on northern Vancouver Island, Clarke’s pathway to post-secondary leadership is somewhat unorthodox.

“It’s not a typical progression, but one thing I have learned as both a police officer and coroner is how to really communicate with people,” says Clarke, who entered the sector in 2010. “Often you have to deliver bad news and you have to do it in a professional way, so I find that it’s very comfortable for me to have challenging conversations with students or staff.”

Clarke’s new role at Selkirk College will provide leadership in departments that include Finance & Ancillary Services, Human Resources, Facilities & Maintenance, and IT. Though his portfolio is focused on more behind-the-scenes work, Clarke makes a habit of talking to as many students as possible to ensure the college is serving their needs properly.

“It’s amazing what you can learn from a student when you sit down and have a bowl of soup in the cafeteria,” says the 57-year-old.

“They might not be ready to provide the input unless you actually sit down with them in a casual setting and ask them questions. Even though you are not working with students day-in and day-out, you are a huge part of what makes this college work. You need to understand why the job is important.”

Originally from Toronto, Kincaid moved west after high school to attend the University of Lethbridge in 1996. Originally focused on becoming a teacher, he decided instead to pursue a degree in Kinesiology. When a friend told him about an opening with the university’s recruitment team, Kincaid jumped at the chance to make presentations to other young people about the merits of a post-secondary education.

“I was the first person in my family and extended family to go to university,” Kincaid says. “It provided me with a pretty solid foundation and because of that, promoting the value of education stays with me. If I can help a person realize the importance of a post-secondary education, it feels very fulfilling.”

Kincaid’s new role at Selkirk College sees him taking charge of several departments including Student Development, Athletics & Recreation, Accessibility Services, Co-Op Education & Employment Services, Aboriginal Services, Healthy Campus, Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Records, Library Services, Communications & Advancement, and Institutional Research.

“In the role that I have now, you really get to impact the student experience and student life from a broad perspective,” says the 41-year-old. “It’s a unique and exciting opportunity.”

Both Clarke and Kincaid arrive at Selkirk College during an exciting time in its history. As the college moves into its next 50 years, there are many active projects in play that will enhance post-secondary in the region. From the Silver King Campus refresh to an increased focus on Healthy Campus initiatives to an ambitious upgrade to the college’s computer support systems and processes, both vice presidents start with a full plate.

“We are at a very critical juncture in our history,” says Graeme. “The current big picture projects will bring much-needed advancements in how we are able to provide the best learning environment possible for students in all our programs. Both John and Kerry will be counted on for their leadership in many areas, roles I’m confident they will flourish in.”

Clarke is replacing outgoing vice president Gary Leier who spent eight years at the college and Kincaid is filling the shoes of Cathy Mercer who worked at the college for 37 years.

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