Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)

Neil Fassina will become the new president of Okanagan College on April 1, 2021. (Contributed)

Okanagan College recruits new president

Current Athabasca University president Neil Fassina to replace Jim Hamilton on April 1, 2021

Athabasca University’s loss will be Okanagan College’s gain next year.

Neil Fassina, the current president of Athabaska, has been chosen to replace Jim Hamilton as president of Okanagan College.

Fassina will take over his new duties from the retiring Hamilton on April 1, 2021.

“After a search that drew candidates from around the world, Okanagan College’s Board of Governors has selected a Canadian educator who has balanced classroom experience with leadership experience to lead Okanagan College into the next stage of its evolution and growth,” said Gloria Morgan, chair of Okanagan College’s Board of Governors in a statement released Thursday (Oct. 22).

“Dr. Fassina has an impressive curriculum vitae that speaks to innovation, growth and – most critically – the importance of student support and success.”

Current Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton will retire in 2021. (Contributed)

Fassina’s time at Athabasca was marked by significant growth and development of that institution.

Prior to joining AU, Neil was the provost and vice-president academic at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (2013-16) and the dean of the JR Shaw School of Business and School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts (2011-13).

He has taught at the University of Toronto, the University of Calgary, the University of Manitoba, and in various executive environments as part of an academic career that started in 2002 and which earned him several awards and honours for teaching excellence.

He received his PhD in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management in 2005 from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Calgary in 1999.

He has served on a plethora of boards in a variety of organizations ranging from Junior Achievement in Edmonton to the Canadian Council of Human Resource Associations.

As an active researcher, he has authored or co-authored a number of refereed articles, a Canadian Human Resource Management text, and pursues research interests in negotiations, applied decision-making and the role of education in shaping societies.

“I know that Okanagan College is an outstanding success story among Canadian post-secondaries,” noted Fassina in the Okanagan College announcement.

“The values and approach that have fueled such success were among the influences that convinced me that serving as president will allow me to join its remarkable cadre of team members and continue to grow our reputation as an institution driving social, cultural and economic development for the region, the province, and the country.”

Since 2018, Fassina has been the chair of the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta, which draws all 26 post-secondary presidents in the province into a group focused on enhancing the higher education system and providing a single voice for the system for government relations.

“As a family who appreciates the outdoors, wake surfing, wine country, fishing, and running, my entire family is looking forward to settling in,” Fassina said.

“More importantly, however, I am eager to hit the ground listening and learn how my experiences can further enable the interests of the college, its students and the many communities it serves.”

Morgan said while the COVID-19 pandemic added complexity to the task of choosing Hamilton’s successor, there was a significant cadre of other educational leaders who were eager to compete for the role.

“It reinforced in the minds of those involved in the search that OC has a very good reputation nationally, driven to a great extent by Jim’s inspired leadership over the past 16 years,” Morgan noted.