New Red Deer College president Peter Nunoda is well suited to lead the school’s transition to a university, says Morris Flewwelling, chair of the board of governors. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

WATCH: New RDC president has three decades of experience working at colleges and universities

Peter Nunoda says he’s ‘excited’ to help transition the college into a university

Red Deer College’s new president is a PhD historian with 30 years of post-secondary experience at colleges and universities, including a background in aboriginal programming.

Peter Nunoda was announced Tuesday as the 11th president of Red Deer College. He will officially take over on Sept. 3 from his retiring predecessor, Joel Ward.

Nunoda, who was president of Vancouver Community College since 2014, said he’s extremely excited to be leading Red Deer College during this key period, as it transitions to a university.

“The future is very bright as we work together to achieve what this community and region have dreamed about for a long time,” said Nunoda, who described his leadership style as being that of an inclusive listener who encourages innovative thinking in administration, faculty and students.

“It is our responsibility to make the vision of a high quality comprehensive post-secondary institution a reality for generations to come,” he said.

“I look forward to working with our many stakeholders on this transformational journey.”

Nunoda feels his “proud” Japanese-Canadian background has shaped his perception in valuing higher education and welcoming all forms of diversity.

RDC board of governors chair Morris Flewwelling said Nunoda’s attributes and experiences at the college and university levels, including his “significant work” with aboriginal communities, made him the strongest candidate in an extensive 15-month search for a new president.

With Nunoda’s diverse background and “easy,” approachable demeanor, he’s the ideal person to lead RDC through continued growth and transition to become a comprehensive regional teaching university, added Flewwelling.

Before leading Vancouver Community College, Nunoda was dean of the faculty of health at the University College of the North. He previously served as director of access and aboriginal focus programs at the University of Manitoba.

Nunoda was also a history and native studies instructor for 12 years at the U of M, conducting research into aboriginal health education, student retention and other subjects. This led him to a position with the Indigenous health unit at James Cook University in Australia.

He told an audience of RDC faculty, students and administrators Tuesday that his family, who emigrated to Vancouver from Japan, were interned during the Second World War — first in the B.C. Interior, then in Ontario.

The married father of three now-adult children said education is extremely important in the Japanese culture, so it was a given he would complete university after he graduated from high school in London, Ont.

He obtained a BA in history from the University of Western Ontario, his master’s degree from the University of Windsor and a PhD in history from the University of Manitoba.

Nunoda said he and his wife, a retired school teacher, look forward to leaving behind a 1.5-hour commute to live in a smaller community that will give them a better quality of life.

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