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AU Board of Governors position posted

Minister of Advanced Education seeking applicants
20220105 AU BoG position posting GOA_WEB
Posted online Jan. 4, the Alberta minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides is looking for a member of the public to sit on the Athabasca University Board of Governors. The position has been vacant since September 2020 when now Town of Athabasca mayor Rob Balay completed two terms and the seat, historically held by a local representative, has been vacant ever since.

ATHABASCA — There was zero hype and no fanfare, but a critical position has been posted online for anyone to apply for. 

After months of campaigning and weeks of discussions with the minister of Advanced Education Demetrios Nicolaides and deputy minister Rod Skura, the Keep Athabasca in Athabasca University (KAAU) community group is hopeful one of the things they have been asking for will come to fruition, once again someone local on the Athabasca University (AU) Board of Governors. 

“I don't think it's a rule but it's a tradition that there's always been some local person on the Board of Governors,” said KAAU member John Ollerenshaw Jan. 6. “(Current Town of Athabasca mayor) Rob Balay was the last local person, and since then there hasn't been a local. So, when we talk to the minister and the deputy minister, they both indicated they'd look at someone local (but) I don’t think they’d give them preference; they’re looking for the best people.”  

The posting went up Jan. 4 and closes Jan. 18. Online applications are preferred using the ePAAS (electronic public agency appointment system) account and you must provide a short four-line biography using the biography template found under additional documents section. 

“If they are selected, they will be representing the university they will not be representing the community,” he said. “Their job is to is to work for the benefit of the university however, I think that someone living locally could bring that local perspective to the board considerations.” 

Ollerenshaw himself was on the Board of Governors for two terms, the maximum, while working at AU, so he and Balay, who was on the board from 2016 to 2020, are aware of how much work it can be. 

"It's a lot of work but I was working at (AU) at the time so, it just added to my workload a lot because each meeting (package) there was up to 400 or 500 pages to read through," said Ollerenshaw.

Balay concurred in a Jan. 7 interview and noted for a time while he was there, the workload was even heavier. 

“For a while there because we were short so many board members, I was on just about everything, it was very busy and then towards the end, it wasn't busy at all, I was only on one,” said Balay. 

Committees include audit, executive, finance and property, governance, honorary awards, and human resources and compensation. 

According to the posting the successful applicant will demonstrate good leadership inspiring and influencing others, good governance with previous experience on boards or committees, good relationship, and community partnership “preferably in Athabasca in surrounding area.” 

“I think in the past (any minister) basically signed off on (names put forward), but I think lately the (government) is taking a little more interest in who is ending up on boards,” said Ollerenshaw. 

As well applicants “may demonstrate background and experience in one or more of the following areas” like post-secondary education experience working with and influencing learning and innovation systems, human resources, and finance. 

The person chosen will share the responsibilities of governing including formulating policies to decide on fiscal and academic matters, as well as establishing the purpose and vision of AU and commit to the academic, financial, and social well-being of AU. 

“We gave them a whole slug of names,” Balay said. “Some people from the community who are willing to put their name forward. The process is usually you apply through the government, in the past anyway, and then there were interviews. The university put the names forward they thought were acceptable and the (Advanced Education minister) has the final decision.” 

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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