Wakefield preps for next chapter

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July 31, 2014 10:33 AM

Milt Wakefield, the chair of Lakeland College's Board of Governors entered early retirement on June 30, after five years in the position. - Photo Supplied

His career has spanned more than three decades. He has worked in the federal government, the Saskatchewan provincial government and for a brief time in Africa teaching.

Milt Wakefield’s latest job was as chair of the board of governors at Lakeland College, but as of June 30, he has stepped down after serving almost five years in the position.

Wakefield said that there was numerous things that came together in the last few months to make the decision to step down a year before the end of the term.

“There is a time when you know things are just right. All the ducks came in the row and it seemed to be the right time,” said Wakefield. “For instance, the college was on a real solid foundation with Glenn Charlesworth as president, and they had a great chair before me as well, they were on a great financial ground as well.

“When Glenn decided to retire, he left Lakeland with the conscience that he had gotten it up to that level and it was his time. I made sure, from my perspective, that we got a real active president in place, we have got a real solid board in place and they have a lot of experience.”

Wakefield said that the board currently is always looking towards the future.

“With all that in mind, It just seemed like the right thing to do, to step back and say to myself, if we have a new president and we have to put a new chair in place, that would be a great combination to change the college from just good to great,” he said. “Whether I leave now or at the end of my term, it’s the college that will be the beneficiary of getting all that new blood into it.”

Asked whether he accomplished what he wanted to while serving as chair, Wakefield said that he accomplished everything but one thing.

“I’m really disappointed in the fact that Lakeland College is recognized by both provinces as being a bi-provincial college – it’s recognized by two provinces – and it was a very disappointing, and a big disappointment to me, to have Saskatchewan back away almost completely from the bi-provincial college.

“Saskatchewan’s contribution is about two or three per cent of the overall budget for Lakeland College. Anything that the college does with that money has to be focused on Saskatchewan students in a Saskatchewan program. I wasn’t able to break into the Saskatchewan government through their Advanced Education to contribute more to programming and infrastructure or buildings of any kind.”

Wakefield said that it’s frustrating that the premier of Saskatchewan was in Lloydminster and said that the government was going to have to make a change.

“The change that he mentioned didn’t happen. If you take inflation into account, it’s probably a step back,” he said.

What advice does he have for his successor?

Wakefield isn’t going to say anything about what the next chair should or shouldn’t do.

“I don’t even want to give particular suggestions, because I felt that I was able to contribute to the level of the college and feel good about it. Let someone else build on it and my feeling is that the college doesn’t have to step back and make corrections along the way,” he said.

“I feel as though we have moved to a next level, and the college doesn’t have to backtrack to move forward.”

Wakefield did admit that spending more time with his wife during the winter, in warmer places, also had a little to do with the early retirement.

“I’m going to spend some time with my wife in the winter, out of the area,” he said.

Looking back on his life in the public, Wakefield jokingly suggested that he’s a slow learner.

“I’ve retired about five times ... I’m a bit of a slow learner when it comes to retirement, because I keep flunking,” he said.

“There will be opportunities for sure. I have a lot of interests for sure, but to get fully involved in my age, I don’t want to do that. I want to do the things that I want to do.”

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