TORONTO, June 25, 2018 /CNW/ - Ann Buller, Centennial College's president and CEO since 2004, is retiring from the college she first joined in 1989 as a recruitment officer making high school visits. A college graduate herself, Buller shaped the community college model into a dynamic and responsive postsecondary institution that transforms lives – much as its creator, former education minister and Ontario Premier Bill Davis, had envisioned.
"Ann is leaving us with a burnished institutional reputation that now spans the globe," says Charlie Regan, chair of the college's Board of Governors. "I am personally saddened by the news, but heartened by the knowledge that we've all prospered under her guidance. Ann told me she plans to take a well-deserved break and contemplate the next chapter in her remarkable life."
With boundless optimism and energy, Buller ushered in an era of comprehensive institutional change. She elevated the concept of community college to a new plateau, one that values individuals of all abilities and challenges each to rise to their potential. Centennial introduced new programs to support students who are underrepresented in postsecondary education, such as those who are the first in their family to attend college, who come from underserved neighbourhoods and Indigenous communities, as well as women pursuing skilled trades.
Under her direction, Centennial launched its Signature Learning Experience 10 years ago, which builds students' critical understanding of social equity and justice issues, and gives them cultural competencies to prepare them to work in a globalized economy. The non-elective course is augmented with GCELE service learning opportunities, encouraging students and employees to venture overseas, and on Canada's reserves, to work on rural and community development projects.
Centennial has cultivated a growing reputation in major markets such as China, India and Brazil, which have resulted in more than 10,000 international students enrolling at its Toronto campuses this year. In 2016 the college opened Suzhou Centennial College near Shanghai, China, to help meet demand in the world's most populous nation. It is the first Canadian institution approved by the Chinese government to deliver Canadian post-secondary programs and confer Canadian diplomas in China.
Buller put Centennial on a sound financial footing by introducing an accountability-based budgeting model and a strategic enrolment plan based on market needs. Substantial budget surpluses have allowed Centennial to hire new full-time faculty and invest close to half a billion dollars in campus capital projects in recent years.
Buller made her mark in numerous roles of escalating responsibility at Centennial. As Director of Student Services, she introduced new approaches to student retention, which earned the college a Noel-Levitz Retention Excellence Award. In 2001, Buller left Centennial to become the Vice President Academic and Chief Learning Officer at Nova Scotia Community College. She returned, motivated and enriched by all she had learned, ready to institute wholesale changes at Centennial.
Among her accomplishments, Buller led a strategic planning process that enhanced employee engagement and saw the creation of The Book of Commitments, a visionary document that introduced the "Centennial Passport," an additional learning credential that allows students to earn recognition for leadership roles. The second edition was published in 2013 after extensive consultations and features a broader commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship, proposes a more dynamic relationship with business and industry, and defines the "new essential skills" necessary for success in a tumultuous, ever-changing world.
When Ann Buller leaves Centennial College next March, she will have completed her third, five-year term as president and CEO. The college will announce its plans to begin an executive search process in the near future.
SOURCE Centennial College
For further information: Media contact: Mark Toljagic, Communications Officer, Centennial College, 416-289-5000 ext. 7142, mobile 416-605-6012, [email protected]