Durham College gets a new dean

Photo by Angela Lavallee

Durham College's new dean, Debbie Johnston.

Durham College has a new dean of its School of Continuing Education.

Debbie Johnston, who initially took on the position of associate dean in June of 2016, officially took over in the dean’s chair Jan. 30. Johnston replaces Director, Nancy Martin, who is now the associate in the school of Business IT Management (BITM).

According to Johnston, Durham College offers 1,446 with unique courses such as Emergency Communications. There are 15,500 students registered per year in continuing education courses.

Durham College offers some continuing education courses online, which is precisely how Johnston earned her MBA.

Johnston began her career in the corporate world working as a vice-president at CIBC She always wanted to teach and decided she needed a change. It wasn’t until she got her degree from Liverpool University in 2008 that she realized the value of online learning.

“I embraced online learning and I think once students are willing to reach out and get to know what online learning can do for them, it can be a great experience,” says Johnston.

Johnston is pleased to be taking over as dean.

“Durham College is a great school and I am looking forward to doing more with (the) continuing education department,” she adds. “I needed an organizational change and this was a fortuitous opportunity and a personal one, too.”

The new dean says Durham College is the right fit for her life.

“There already is a strong team here at Durham College and I will build on that as I move forward. This is a fabulous opportunity and a step up for me in my career, I am very fortunate,” adds Johnston.

Elaine Popp, Durham’s vice-president, academic, says in an email that hiring Johnston for the position of dean was the right choice.

“Debbie brings years of experience and she is dedicated to this position,” says Popp in the email.

Popp also says the decision to hire Johnston was based on her eight years working in business management and 15 years in post-secondary. She also spent three years at Humber College as the director of professional and continuing education.

“There is a lot involved in the job of dean. There are complex issues and challenging workloads,” says Popp, adding Johnston is uniquely qualified as the dean of continuing education at Durham College.

Popp says in Johnston’s previous role, she constantly demonstrated leadership, management and supervisory skills, academic program planning, nurturing and sustaining relationships, organizational development and community building.

Johnston says the website for continuing education is being revamped and will be more engaging for the students and will roll out soon.

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Angela Lavallee is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. She currently works as a freelance reporter for The Peterborough This Week.