Skip to content

Former cabinet minister named next Sault College president

David Orazietti, the former MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, begins five-year term in September
The new incoming Sault College president, David Orazietti (right) is shown with Ron Common, outgoing Sault College president, at an April 15, 2016 college fundraiser.

David Orazietti’s career in education has taken another leap.

The former provincial cabinet minister was announced as Sault College’s new president on April 10.

He will succeed Ron Common, who has served as the postsecondary institution’s president since 2007 and intends to retire effective Aug. 31, 2023.

“It was a competitive process and I’m honoured to have been selected as the next president. I’m certainly looking forward to working with everyone,” Orazietti told SooToday.

Orazietti is a schoolteacher by profession who taught for the Algoma District School Board and served as a Sault Ste. Marie city councillor before a career in provincial politics. In January 2017, he was picked to be the college’s dean of aviation, trades and technology, natural environment and business.

That job title was later revised to dean of aviation, skilled trades, business, environment and culinary.

“I certainly valued the opportunity to become part of the college organization seven years ago," Orazietti said.

"I’ve certainly felt privileged to have the opportunity to work here at the college as a dean, and I’ve been focused on working in the areas that I have responsibility for, with my colleagues in these areas, and I decided to pursue this opportunity when it was presented."

Before joining the Sault College team, Orazietti was no stranger to the institution. As MPP he made approximately $70 million in Ontario government funding announcements for new college infrastructure and equipment for its programming. He was Sault Stre. Marie's MPP from 2003 to 2016 and served in three cabinet portfolios beginning in 2013.

That funding went to several initiatives, including the college’s Institute of Environment, Education and Entrepreneurship building — known as iE3 — the Health and Wellness Centre, improvements and upgrades for the college’s aviation program, and a number of other projects.

“I would say postsecondary education is so vital to our community and Sault College was a top priority for provincial support when I was MPP,” Orazietti said.

“I have been very involved with the college for many years and continue to support program development like our mechatronics engineering degree program, our aviation program, so there certainly is a history between myself and the college that goes back many years.”

Orazietti begins a five-year term as president beginning in September.

“I’m working with Dr. Common to ensure that we have a smooth and organized transition,” Orazietti said.

Moving forward, the college has plans underway for a new centre for health studies and a new student residence.

Without going into specific detail, Orazietti said, “there are many opportunities that will help to continue to grow our college so that we continue to be a vital contributor to our economic well being in Sault Ste. Marie. So I will be having discussions internally with all our employee groups — and the college’s board of governors — to ensure that everyone in the organization has an opportunity to weigh in on the future direction of the college.”

Orazietti, however, did comment on Sault College’s student body that includes an increasing number of international students.

“The diversification of our student population is essential. It is good news for our college and it’s good news for our community. Rich Peters, who’s our vice-president of strategic international development, is doing a very good job diversifying the countries from which our international students are arriving and that strengthens the entire organization and we will continue to be reliant on international students,” Orazietti said.

While positive about the future of the college and the community, Orazietti added, “I also do believe that there is more that we can do to support our domestic recruitment efforts.”

“I think domestic enrolment is a challenge for all colleges in Ontario. It’s a challenge across the country in the postsecondary sector.

“It’s demographics. But we have very strong programs at the college and we will have the opportunity to continue to build on the progress we’ve made and to work to grow our enrolment and our organization,” Orazietti said.

The incoming president said he will continue to draw knowledge from community partners such as Algoma Steel, Tenaris and the health-care sector in regard to what types of professional training the college needs to offer.

“David really demonstrates commitment to this community and the college,” said Shauna Hynna, chair of the Sault College board of governors, speaking to SooToday.  

“His heart is in it. We felt that he brought some really inspirational and visionary planning to the table as to where he would like to see how we move ahead.

“He spoke a lot about building on our partnerships with our Indigenous partners knowing that we have a big Indigenous population around us, and that we could be a leader in developing that partnership.

"We feel his commitment is truly there to the college and the community as a whole. He really sees the college team as the ones that can make it happen. He celebrates our college leaders and that will work really well for the future of the college, whether it be for domestic or international students. I think he’s going to engage and empower the right people to get the job done.”

After Common announced his intention to retire as college president in 2022, the school’s board of governors announced it had sought the services of a recruitment firm in its search for his successor.

Hynna said the college had interviewed both internal and external applicants before choosing Orazietti for the top job.    

“David is a great communicator and when he speaks he means it. He really wants to make some positive changes and I really do think he will,” Hynna said.

— SooToday