June 17th, 2019

MHC’s new leader eyes future

By COLLIN GALLANT on June 12, 2019.

NEWS PHOTO EMMA BENNETT
Kevin Shufflebotham is handed a gift by kindergarten student Kian Porter during a Tuesday, June 11, 2019 ceremony where he was installed as the ninth presideny of Medicine Hat College. The ceremony took place at the Eresman Theatre with local dignitaries in attendance.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

Medicine Hat College should hold dear its strengths and history while writing a plan to adjust to an unknowable future, according to its new leader.

Kevin Shufflebotham was installed at the post-secondary institution’s ninth president on Tuesday at the Eresman Theatre in front of dignitaries, the college’s board, regional and community leaders and staff.

The former provost of NAIT said today is “a pivotal time for the college” that will have to consider its role in the region and lives of its residents who face technological advances, challenges to community and a changing view and prospects for employment.

“If you know the answers, let me know – there’s a place for you at the college,” he told the audience.

He then asked each member of the audience to consider for a moment their accomplishments, then “hold that feeling of strength as we shift our thoughts towards the future.”

“None of us knows what the future is going to hold … but I can promise that through 10 years we will need all our strength, determination and creativity to face the challenges that we can’t yet predict,” he said.

“But in that uncertainty, there is opportunity.”

Shufflebotham, 50, took over the job on April 15 to begin a five-year contract. He replaces Denise Hennings, who abruptly left the college in the spring of 2018.

When his hiring was announced in February, board chair Graham Kelly told the media that Shufflebotham’s experience, “winning personality” and leadership style made him the top candidate.

Community building was a theme not only of Shufflebotham’s address, but of the remarks of those who officially welcomed him.

Glenn Feltham, president of NAIT, where Shufflebotham leaves a position as provost, said Medicine Hat was gaining an energetic leader “with a passion for people and community.”

“He doesn’t back down from challenges, but embraces them,” said Feltham.

Aside from familiarizing himself with operations and staff, the first order of business is the creation of a new strategic plan that will be unveiled to the public next fall.

This winter he told local reporters he was looking forward to exploring potential for new transfer or degree program agreements with other institutions. As well, he said, working with school boards here and Brooks, where MHC has a satellite campus, would be key to boosting enrolment that had hit a plateau.

This week’s speech he touched on a various efforts and partnerships, as well as discussions with students, staff and leaders in the general community.

“The college can not succeed by only looking inward,” he said. “It’s a pivotal time for the college.”

Medicine Hat Mayor Ted Clugston likened Shufflebotham’s new position as winning a lottery without a monetary prize.

“You’ll have a chance to shape the future of this community,” he said.

Newell County Reeve Molly Douglas listed a wide array of industries throughout the southeast Alberta region, and pointed to its diversity of opportunity as a strength that should be fostered.

The area’s members of the legislative assembly did not attend as the legislature is in session.

Shufflebotham arrives most recently from serving as the provost of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. During for three years in that position, and he also served at times as an interim dean of the departments of business and health sciences.

He began his academic career as an instructor after working as a respiratory therapist. After obtaining further education from Royal Roads University and work with Alberta Advanced Education, he also served in the senior administration of Grant McEwan College, now McEwan University.

He also claims family ties to the area. His wife Coreen (nee Skauge) grew up in Medicine Hat, and there are extended relatives near Brooks.

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