In 2019, Joel Ward sees Red Deer College as being an institution with 10,000 students, state-of-the-art athletic facilities, new degree options for learners, and a reputation as a community-builder.
On Tuesday, he was given the mandate to see that vision through.
With a unanimous vote followed by a round of applause, the college’s board of governors gave Ward a second five-year contract as president of the growing institution, a deal that will keep Ward at the helm until Aug. 30, 2019. Ward succeeded Ron Woodward as RDC president in 2009, coming to the post from Brandon’s Assiniboine Community College on an initial five-year contract that was to expire next year.
Ward’s current salary is $281,091 with an annual salary review coming up in December. He is currently on the fifth rung of the board’s 10-rung pay scale, which allows for five-per-cent salary increases each year upon the president meeting his executive requirements.
Ward stands to top out on the pay scale at $351,716 in 2017.
Board chair Shelley Ralston cited Ward’s leadership and “innovation bent” as positive qualities that made the board’s extension decision an easy one. She also noted the connections Ward has made in the community and on a provincial level as helping to move the college forward and allowing it to earn honours such as being named one of the 25 most innovative organizations in the province by Alberta Venture magazine in August, the only post-secondary institution to be included in the list.
“What that does is it tells us that (we’re balancing) the operational excellence with running a large institution like this with the creativity and innovation that you need to go forward,” said Ralston.
By the end of his next contract, Ward said he believes the college population will increase more than 30 per cent from the 7,500 it sits at now.
“I see more degree opportunities for our learners with some of our own degrees, and also new degrees in partnership with our other institutions. I look for a program mix that includes things like engineering and so on, and then new great facilities including new residences for our students and a new multiplex which will really raise our athletics facilities to a level that will be first class in this province, because right now they’re not that great,” said Ward.
And he said the college’s Centre for Innovation in Manufacturing will grow in importance over the years, supporting small and medium enterprises as they grow their business and create new products.
Evaluating his first four years in the position, Ward said funding levels have made for challenging situations. Due to a seven per cent cut in provincial funding, the college faced a $6-million shortfall in its budget this year and ended up laying off over 30 employees and cutting certain program offerings.
RDC Student Association president Martin Cruz said Ward sticking around for another six years bodes well for the student population. He cited the movement of business students over to the downtown Donald School of Business campus, the opening up of the City Centre Stage and the increase of food services on campus as positive movements already made by Ward.