Langara College announces new president and CEO

Paula Burns brings more than 25 years of academic experience to the Vancouver institution

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      Langara College has announced the appointment of Paula Burns as its new president and CEO.

      In a January 27 news release, Michal Jaworski, chair of the college board of governors, said that Burns will start at Langara this June.

      Burns is currently president of Lethbridge College in Alberta, where she has served three terms since 2013. She is also board chair of Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), where she helped develop that organization's Indigenous education protocol.

      She also previously chaired CICan's governance committee and its Presidents' Advisory Committee on Sustainability.

      “My values are strongly aligned with the priorities outlined in the 2025 Strategic Plan for Langara College,” Burns said in the release.

      “I see a focus on a diverse learning community, an emphasis on building a positive culture that supports students, staff, and faculty, and a commitment to Indigenization and maintaining and deepening relationships with Musqueam and other Indigenous Nations and communities. The role of post-secondary education in Truth and Reconciliation is essential for our future collective success.”

      Burns earned a PhD in 2005 at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto, and she subsequently received an executive MBA from Royal Roads University in 2010.

      Prior to that, she got a master of arts in education from Central Michigan University in 1999, as well as a bachelor of science degree from the University of Waterloo in 1996.

      Burns will replace acting president and CEO Yusuf Varachia (Langara vice president, external), who was appointed by the board of governors in November 2021 after previous president Lane Trotter accepted the position of Camosun College president effective January 1, 2022.

      Varachia previously held the position of director of global engagement at Simon Fraser University and worked for UBC's student services. Prior to that, he taught for the Toronto District School Board.

      “Challenges we face can be uncomfortable, but I am grateful for them as they are also great learning experiences," Burns said of her experiences at Lethbridge College and a new community.

      "My intention is to always use them as an opportunity to connect, listen, and strengthen relationships through respect, providing opportunities for responsibility and support as needed, and empowering people through accountability.”