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Timmins college president retiring

Audrey Penner will leave her post at Northern College effective Dec. 31, 2023
Dr. Audrey Penner, president of Northern College

The leader of a local college has announced her retirement.

Northern College president Audrey Penner is retiring effective Dec. 31, 2023. The eighth president of the school, she's been at the helm since August 2020, replacing Fred Gibbons.

A committee with members from the college's board of governors will lead the search for a new president. The board will also be working with Penner on a succession plan.

“Northern is a formidable college situated in the most beautiful region of Ontario,” said Penner in a news release. “I will miss it so very much. It is the people here who have made it so special for me, and this has been my home, so it was not an easy decision for me to make.”

Penner has been at Northern as a senior executive since August 2014. She has more than three decades of experience in the postsecondary sector, according to the retirement announcement.

Serving at Northern has forever changed her life, she said in the news release, and she's grateful for those who helped the school grow.

"It has been an honour to strengthen post-secondary programming for the past three decades of my life, including my time at Northern. To witness first-hand the empowerment of learners, and see the difference education can make in their lives, has been tremendous," she said.

"I look forward to seeing how Northern will continue to stimulate economic development in the communities we serve, which is what I sought to do, and cheer you on from afar. We provide exceptional talent to the workforce, and post-COVID, this is needed more than ever."

Some of the highlights of Penner's time, according to the school, are increasing international student enrolment from fewer than 50 students in 2017 to more than 1,200 in 2023, growing the college's revenue sources by 75 per cent, increasing its footprint across the region by 37 per cent, expanding new programs and degree offerings by 50 per cent and increasing capital and fixed assets by 82 per cent. 

She also serves on a number of local, regional, provincial and national committees.

The board of governors and college community congratulates Penner on her retirement announcement, said Jeff Molyneaux, board of governors chair, in a statement. 

“We are grateful for the valued leadership of Dr. Penner and are sorry to see her go. We respect her family commitments and wish her all the very best in her decision to be closer to them. Audrey has grown the college and our region during her time with us, despite having begun her presidency during the global pandemic — which is no easy feat for any leader. We are thankful for that," he said. 

— TimminsToday