Dennis Johnson didn’t hesitate when asked to make his temporary role with Saskatchewan Polytechnic permanent.
On Wednesday, Sask. Polytech officially appointed Johnson as its full-time provost and vice-president, Academic, positions he’d held on an interim basis since September 2018.
“Moving back into the VP academic is kind of like returning home,” said Johnson, whose most recent permanent role was vice-president of Strategy and Business Development. “It’s very familiar.”
Johnson takes on the role as Sask. Polytech begins discussion and plans for the next stage in its development. The school’s current strategic plan runs until 2020, and administrators and faculty will begin developing the next phase in the coming months.
Johnson said he’s proud of the school’s recent achievements, especially when it comes to graduate employment opportunities. The most recent data shows 92 per cent of Sask. Polytech grads find a job within one year. However, Johnson also said the nature of work is changing, and it’s up to the college to change with it.
“There’s lots of interest now in the future of work, the jobs that are going to go away or become redundant, and the new jobs that we don’t even know about,” he explained. “We need to be ready for that, while at the same time teaching what’s still needed and relevant and current today.”
That planning process will extend to Prince Albert, which houses one of four regional campuses in Saskatchewan. Although Sask. Poly has partnered with a number of regional colleges in central and northern Saskatchewan, Johnson said they’re still seeing lots of students wanting to come to Prince Albert for their education. Their goal for the next phase of their strategic plan is to make sure those students are still well served.
“We want to continue to make sure that we’re really serving that community (with) new programs or new offerings or different ways of delivering current programs that serve P.A. and area,” Johnson said. “That’s what I’ll be focusing on. Do we have the program mix right for the things we should be adding? It’s too early for me to say I have a list. I don’t, but we’ll be looking at our program mix at each of the campuses and seeing how we can enhance the offerings for the students.”
Johnson began his academic career at Mohawk College. He also taught previously at Okanagan University College and Thompson Rivers University. He holds a PhD in Educational Administration from the University of Saskatchewan.
Sask. Polytech president and CEO Larry Rosia welcomed Johnson’s official appointment, especially for his work in creating a more diverse school.
“Dr. Johnson has an exciting vision for the future of education and learning at Sask. Polytech,” Rosia said in a media release. “As interim provost and vice-president Academic he has continued to build relationships with stakeholders, and advanced work on internationalization and Indigenization at Sask. Polytech.”