Lakeland College’s new permanent president and CEO Alice Wainwright-Stewart will be put to the test almost immediately.
“We were told back in November that we were going to be facing some possible cuts again for our institution,” Wainwright-Stewart said.
While nothing is yet official, and the change in provincial government could theoretically change things, indications point towards the school’s budget being slashed by 1.4 per cent in 2015-16 and 2.7 per cent in 2016-17.
Lakeland College named Wainwright-Stewart its permanent president and CEO on May 5, after an extensive search process that included more than 30 applicants and 13 in-depth interviews. She had been serving in those positions on an interim basis since the end of October 2014, when she replaced Dr. Tracy Edwards, who resigned.
“We wanted to be absolutely certain that we chose the best person available, and I am confident that we have done that,” said Darrel Howell, chair of the board of governors.
In the interim role, Wainwright-Stewart says she spent the much of the last six months evaluating and modifying the school’s business practices.
She says that instead of reacting to budget changes every year, she wants to implement a business plan conducive to long-term growth, regardless of annually government funding.
“As I’ve watched for the last 30 years, we’ve ridden the wave of just surviving. Some days when we would receive new funds, we could do new things, but when we were cut, we were right back down to it,” she said.
Getting ahead of the wave, Wainwright-Stewart says, will include sticking to financial projections that are evidence-based, making operating procedures more efficient, creatively seeking new ways to generate revenue for the school and focusing education on professional industry and corporate-type training.
Despite the period of economic uncertainty, Wainwright-Stewart says she is very confident about Lakeland College’s financial future and the institution’s appeal to prospective students. She specifically named the emergency services and agricultural programs as being some of the best in the area.
“I believe that Lakeland College, for the northeast region of Alberta, is well-positioned to help the people here in this area move and grow forward,” she said.
Wainwright-Stewart began her Lakeland College career in the 1980s as an instructor in the early childhood education program. Since 2005, she had been serving as the vice president, academic.