Dr Glenda Vardy Dell will become the new president of the NWT’s Aurora College on Monday, replacing the outgoing Andy Bevan.
Vardy Dell, a college staff member since 2019, is currently interim director of the college’s centre for teaching and learning. The GNWT said she “brings a wealth of experience in the fields of health sciences and post-secondary leadership.”
Roles Vardy Dell has held include dean of the College of New Caledonia’s school of health sciences and executive director of nursing at Yellowknife’s Stanton Territorial Hospital.
She assumes Aurora College’s presidency with the college midway through its transformation into a polytechnic university, a process expected to be largely complete by 2025.
NWT education minister RJ Simpson said Vardy Dell’s appointment was an “important step in our plan to transition the college back to operations as an independent, arms-length institution.”
The college has been under a government-appointed administrator since June 2017, when the college’s board of governors was dismissed – a precursor to the university transformation announced a year later.
Bevan’s appointment in February 2020 was controversial as he was perceived in some quarters to represent the NWT government bureaucracy, having previously worked within the territorial government as assistant deputy minister for labour and income security.
He replaced Tom Weegar, who had by contrast been brought to the NWT after a high-profile nationwide search for a new president.
Weegar lasted less than a year in the job. He said he was fired, which the NWT government had initially denied, and described encountering “an incredible amount of resistance” as he tried to create a new position overseeing Indigenous education.
Vardy Dell, assuming her new role on April 4, is tasked with ensuring the college – and, eventually, the territory’s new polytechnic university – tackles the many issues challenging northern post-secondary institutions.
A federal task force only on Thursday reported that under-representation of Indigenous knowledge and leaders remain a problem in the North at both K-12 and post-secondary level. The task force said systemic barriers to access persist. Its report included 37 calls to action.
Vardy Dell will assume responsibility for overall operation of the college, the NWT government said, but will be only a “partner” in the transformation into a polytechnic university, which the territory’s Department of Education, Culture and Employment will continue to lead.
Bevan is retiring, the territory said, paying tribute to his “strong leadership through the first phase” of the transformation.
The college itself, in a separate news release, said it was “well-positioned to successfully continue along the transformation journey and with the same strong leadership team.”