President Dan Patterson, the dynamic, visionary and tireless leader of Niagara College, has advised the Board of Governors that he will conclude his tenure as Niagara College president when his current term ends on June 30, 2020.
While he remains as passionate and energized about Niagara College as he was at the beginning of his presidency almost 25 years ago, Dan has indicated that he feels it is the right time to make a change, knowing the college is in a strong place and well positioned to meet the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead.
“I have the best job in the world seeing Niagara College transform the lives of students along with responding to the needs of the Niagara community. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when you see the great things happening in and out of the classrooms at our campuses, driven by our faculty and staff’s unwavering commitment to student success,” said Patterson. “I leave Niagara College in a good place at a good time. I marvel at how this almost twenty-five year journey has placed us as a leader in the Canadian college system. There is much to be proud of, and Niagara College is well placed to meet the exciting opportunities and inevitable challenges of the coming years.”
“On behalf of the Board of Governors and the entire Niagara College community, I offer our sincere appreciation to Dan for dedicating boundless time and energy into transforming Niagara College into a leading postsecondary educational institution in Canada with global recognition for excellence,” said John F.T. Scott, chair of Niagara College’s Board of Governors.
During his nearly 25-year tenure as president, Dan has overseen a dramatic transformation of Niagara College. Enrolment has almost tripled – from 4,500 to 13,000 students who come from more than 90 countries. The college has invested more than $300 million at two outstanding campus locations in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake that are now among the most unique, innovative and beautiful learning environments in the country. Along with its presence in Niagara, the College is also a recognized leader in international education with global partnerships in several countries including Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, India, Jamaica and Brazil.
Dan has been as dedicated to smart economic development for the Niagara region as he has been to the college. He has been instrumental in linking academic programs to the new and emerging needs of local industries. Today, the college offers more than 130 academic programs supporting key regional sectors, including health care, agri-business and advanced manufacturing. Programs introduced under Dan’s leadership include Canadian firsts in post-secondary education such as winery and viticulture and wine business, brewing, distilling and a commercial cannabis production program. These pioneering programs are supported by unique learning enterprises, including a teaching winery, brewery and distillery, on-campus vineyards and hop yards.
Under Dan’s leadership, Niagara College has also become a forerunner in applied research, consistently ranking in the top 10 of College Research funding in Canada. Through its research and innovation work, Niagara College has assisted hundreds of small and medium businesses innovate and develop new products and process efficiencies, while providing students with valuable real-world experience.
Dan’s impact has been felt well beyond Niagara College. He is an extraordinary community leader and has championed many worthwhile initiatives that have beneficially impacted the health and well-being of the Niagara community. The community has recognized him on several occasions which include the 2012 Niagara Business Achievement Awards Community Leadership Award (presented by the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce); the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year and the Canadian Red Cross Power of Humanity award.
As Chair of the Committee of Presidents representing 24 Ontario colleges, Dan’s leadership helped secure the granting of baccalaureate degrees for Ontario colleges, and to raise their profile as a vital segment of the provincial post-secondary education sector. Dan continues to share his knowledge and expertise through involvement in boards at the national, provincial and local levels. His public service has been recognized with Honourary Doctorates from Niagara University and Brock University.
As president of Niagara College, Dan has personally greeted premiers, prime ministers, ambassadors and royalty on behalf of the college community. However, the most important and cherished greetings have been in congratulating over 63,000 Niagara College graduates on the convocation stage. One of his main points of pride is having been inducted into the Niagara College Student Administrative Council’s Hall of Fame.
Dr. Dan, as he is sometimes affectionately known, is recognized by his friendly, welcoming, demeanor which affords students, staff and faculty the comfort to stop him in the parking lot, hallway or in the community at large. His willingness to listen to compliments and criticism has enabled Dan to keep his hand the pulse of Niagara College, and to seize opportunities to learn, improve and innovate.
Dan has embodied the DNA of Niagara College as an institution that is trailblazing, welcoming and passionate. In fact, he and his wife Saundra have opened their hearts and home to literally thousands of College students, faculty, staff and guests from around the world.
Dan and Saundra plan to stay in the Niagara Region as Dan looks forward to remaining active in postsecondary education as an advocate for colleges, a mentor to leaders and students, and an expert in international education.
“The Board of Governors accepted Dan’s announcement with deep appreciation for all that he has done, and great respect for his wish to move into a new phase of his life,” said Scott. “Dan’s leadership has provided an exceptional era at Niagara College and we look forward to the opportunities to express our appreciation in celebration of his accomplishments over the coming year.
The Board will be announcing details of the search process for the next president of Niagara College in the coming weeks.