Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Last updated: 11 months ago

BCIT president Don Wright resigns for potential public-sector position with B.C. NDP

Don Wright resigns as BCIT president. Photo Blanca Blandon/The Ubyssey

Don Wright resigns as BCIT president. Photo Blanca Blandon/The Link

BURNABY (CUP) — Don Wright, president of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), announced his resignation on Feb. 13 in a formal address where he was holding back tears while optimistic about the road ahead with the B.C. branch of the New Democratic Party.

“Adrian Dix has offered me the position of head of the civil service over in Victoria if his party wins the election in May,” Wright announced to a crowed of BCIT staff and students, “and I have accepted that offer.”

Wright communicated his support for Adrian Dix and the B.C. NDP to listeners, noting he is not partisan but expressing his own personal philosophy.

“I believe Adrian Dix’s agenda is … a natural extension of what the mission of what this institution is,” said Wright, “which is to promote the prosperity of B.C. by providing people with the tools to be productive, to have rewarding careers and to make a meaningful contribution to the wealth of our society.”

Wright’s last day as president of BCIT will be February 26, at which time Chris Golding, the current vice-president for institute planning, will step in as acting-president.

Golding told The Link that he feels he will be a good person to fill in as president of the institution during the search for a new president because he doesn’t intend to ever take on that role on a permanent basis.

“It’s probably best that you have somebody who’s acting that doesn’t plan on applying for the job because it can often appear to be you have a head start of everyone else,” said Golding.

“I’ve known for a few weeks now,” Golding said, “and we’ve been just trying to make sure that everybody got informed at the right time.”

Kathy Corrigan, who is the NDP MLA for Burnaby Deer-Lake, said that Wright was selected based on his credibility in the private and public sectors and his time at BCIT is synonymous with the NDP’s prioritization of post-secondary education in B.C.

“It certainly dovetails nicely with the emphasis that we have put in recognizing how important post-secondary education is, trades and training and universities absolutely critical to the future of this province,” said Corrigan.

Although enthusiastic about his new potential role with the B.C. NDP, Wright was emotional when announcing his resignation and reflecting on his five years as BCIT’s president.

“I think when it comes time for me to finally retire, I’m going to look back at these five years as the best five years of my career,” said Wright.

According to Corrigan, Wright’s role with the NDP, if elected in May, would be instrumental in transition planning.

“It’s prudent of you to plan for being in government and that’s not second guessing what the people of B.C. are going to do by any means,” Corrigan told The Link. “What it does mean is that you need to have a plan in place and that’s called transition planning.”

In his public announcement at BCIT, Wright said his reasoning to resign upon accepting leader of the B.C. NDP, Adrian Dix’s offer to take the position of deputy minister to the premier, if elected, is two-fold.

“I need to spend the next period of time preparing for my new position, should that be my new position,” Wright outlined as one reason for his stepping down. “Second, I didn’t want BCIT in any way to be affected by perception of conflict from my current position to the one that I may be going to.”

Wright said that if the NDP were elected in May, a higher investment into post-secondary education is likely.

“If the government does change in the spring time, I think you’ll find that there’s a government that places a higher value on BCIT than has been the case over the last little while,” said Wright.

Wright informed the board of governors of his resignation on last Wednesday.

This article was originally published in The Link (British Columbia Institute of Technology)