By Chadd Cawson Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The College of the Rockies (COTR) board of governors recently elected their new chair and vice chair during the public session of their regular board meeting on September 15. Nic Milligan, who has served on the board for the last three years and held the role of vice- chair this past year, was elected to the position of chair.

“Nic’s commitment to our communities, along with his understanding of the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead for us at the college, make him a natural fit for the chair role,” said COTR president and chief executive officer (CEO), Paul Vogt, in an October press release. “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity.”

Milligan is a retired manager of social responsibility where he worked out of Sparwood for Teck Resources. It’s a company based out of Vancouver that operates several mines in Elk Valley. Milligan will be taking over the role of chair from Randal Macnair who will remain on the board as a valued board member for the remainder of the term. Milligan, who is well known for being active in the community, was first appointed to the COTR board by the province in July 2020. The decision to appoint Milligan was an easy one, as he had been a board member with Community Futures East Kootenay, the Fernie & District Historical Society, and the Sparwood Chamber of Commerce.

“I am very pleased to serve on the board of governors of the COTR. It is an important institution with a direct positive impact in each community we serve,” said Milligan in an October press release. “As chair I hope to work closely with the board and college employees to provide good

governance as together, we advance the college’s strategic direction through continued uncertain times. As well, I hope to work with the board and our excellent staff to advance the institution’s efforts toward reconciliation with those Indigenous communities on whose territory we reside.”

Also moving up the board ladder and into the role of vice-chair is Ktunaxa First Nation member, Jared Basil, from the Lower Kootenay area. Basil’s experience spans both the economic and social sectors at the Ktunaxa Nation Council (KNC). Basil, also appointed in July of 2020, has been with the COTR board of governors for the last three years, bringing with him the experience as a former elected official and former chair of the KNC education and employment sector.

Jared Basil of Ktunaxa First Nation who has also been with the board since July of 2020 was appointed vice-chair on COTR general board meeting. meeting on Sept. 15.

Both Milligan and Basil strongly support the college’s strategic direction as well as all the communities they serve, including Invermere.

“(The) College of the Rockies is committed to being an education leader in our region, providing learning options for every career stage, and to provide market-focused learning opportunities. Our Invermere campus serves our students in the Columbia Valley with a wide range of program options,” said Heather Jackson, COTR manager of communications and marketing.

“Nic has a long history of public service, including in his previous position as manager of social responsibility at Teck and in his roles on many boards in the Elk Valley and is dedicated to advancing the college’s efforts toward reconciliation,” Jackson said. “Jared also brings extensive experience to the role of vice-chair. He worked in both the economic and social sectors at the Ktunaxa Nation Council and is a former elected official and former chair of the council’s education and employment sector. As a Ktunaxa Nation member from Lower Kootenay, he also brings an important perspective to the college’s reconciliation efforts. With Nic and Jared both based out of satellite campus communities, they will be positioned to advocate strongly for continued improvements at all our regional campuses.”

Collaborating with Milligan and Basil on board decisions will be previously appointed members, Lainee Eccelston, Anne Glassford, Randal Macnair, Darlene Trach, Amber van Drielen, Sharon Demaine (education council chair), and Jenn Smith, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representative. COTR has provided post-secondary education that meets the needs and aspirations of the people, industry, and businesses in the region for over 40 years. 

COTR students experience smaller class sizes and more personalized instruction.  A new College of the Rockies Faculty Association (CORFA) representative and two student representatives will be elected in the coming weeks. Following this, they will be sworn in at the regular COTR board of governors meeting held in Invermere on November 4.