New president tours campus
Cheryl Jensen, Algonquin College's new president, paid a visit to the Pembroke waterfront campus on Friday. Here, she stands with Karen Davies, left, Pembroke campus dean, and Fred Blackstein, vice chairman of the college's Board of Governors. Jensen officially starts her duties Aug. 25.
Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley warmly welcomed its new president Friday, as she completed a whirlwind tour of the college's three campuses.
Cheryl Jensen officially takes over from outgoing president Kent MacDonald Aug. 25, but wanted to visit college properties and meet with staff as soon as her appointment by the board of governors was made official. In fact, it was within 24 hours of that announcement that she was visiting the Pembroke waterfront campus.
Jensen is the eighth president of Algonquin College, and has the distinction of being the first woman selected for that position. She comes to the college from Hamilton's Mohawk College, where she has worked for the past 31 years as a professor, dean and vice-president.
"It was extremely important to me that I have my feet on the ground at every campus," she said, speaking to local media after spending the morning chatting with faculty and staff, meeting with Pembroke Mayor Ed Jacyno and Renfrew County Acting Warden Jack Wilson, and touring the grounds.
Jensen said seeing the waterfront campus filled her with pride and she thanked the board of governors for entrusting her with its stewardship. She said she was glad to take up the challenge with Algonquin because of its strong reputation as a leader in innovation and technology, and its commitment to remain an important part of the community.
"I'm so impressed with the campus and how it serves the community," Jensen said, saying it benefits the college to work on improving the communities in which they are situated.
The president also serves as chairwoman of the Skills Canada Ontario Board of Directors, an area she feels particularly passionate about. She said in order to increase interest in this field, more mus be done to support and promote skilled trades.
"As a society, we need to see the value of skilled trades," Jensen said, making secondary students, parents, teachers and guidance counsellors aware of the field as a credible option to pursue. She added more skilled trade programs must be hosted in state-of-the-art facilities like the waterfront campus to show they value trade students.
Fred Blackstein, who is the vice-chairman of the college's board of governors, said on behalf of his colleagues, he is absolutely delighted to welcome Jensen.
"I'm looking forward to her having a special relationship with this campus," he said.
Karen Davies, dean of Algonquin College in the Ottawa Valley, said she cannot overemphasize how important this visit the Pembroke campus is, especially since it occurred so soon after the president's appointment.
Despite being in the midst of summer holidays, Davies was thrilled that 40 members of the college's faculty and staff took the time to come in specifically to meet with Jensen.
"This is huge," the dean added.
Jensen holds a Master of Education, Organizational and Administrative Studies from Brock University. She graduated from McMaster University with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Certificate in the Metallurgy of Iron and Steel.
She is the 2012 recipient of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC) Silver Award for Leadership Excellence, and of the YMCA Hamilton Women of Distinction award as a 'Trailblazer'.
Jensen previously held the role of vice-president of Engineering Technology, Apprenticeship and Corporate Training, where she led the proposal submission for a major partnership agreement with Hydro One. She was instrumental in the launch of Canada's first bachelor of technology program with McMaster University and also championed innovative integrated technician apprenticeship programs and led the transformation of Mohawk College's skilled trades campus.
Prior to becoming a vice-president, Jensen was Mohawk College's first female dean, Faculty of Engineering Technology and Skilled Trades; and chairwoman of Computer and Electrical Engineering Technology. She taught in the Chemical Engineering Technology program for 16 years.
Jensen also served as a member of the Hamilton Community Foundation for four years, and was recently the vice-chairwoman of the board of directors with the Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford YMCA.
Jensen and her husband Tom, who is retired, have two daughters - Lorraine, a doctor, married to Brian; and Monica, a veterinarian, and one son, Neal, who is an electrician and a Mohawk graduate. They are also proud grandparents to five-month old Colton. She is an avid camper and her hobbies include canoeing, hiking, and running.
Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist