North Island College’s new president, Lisa Domae, kicked off her first official day by releasing the college’s draft strategic plan for consultation.
Domae previously served as NIC’s executive vice-president, academic and chief operating officer (COO), and started her term as president on April 12. As the sixth president of the college, she succeeds John Bowman, who retired in March after serving at the helm for nearly eight years.
Domae’s first priority as president is to hear from students and community members about BUILD 2026, the college’s new draft strategic plan.
“It’s a marvelous opportunity to engage with community and to learn what communities need from NIC as we head into a more ‘normal’ normal with COVID-19,” she said. “It’s been a really exciting and invigorating time for us to consider how NIC can better serve the people of the region.”
Domae has worked at the college for 20 years and has been involved with the development of strategic plans in the past, but this is her first time leading the development. Domae holds a bachelor’s degree from UBC, a post-baccalaureate diploma from SFU, a Master’s from Queens University and a PhD from UVic. She is also a Registered Professional Planner and member of the Canadian Institute of Planners.
She was selected as president by a broad Presidential Search Advisory Committee made of students, employees, board and Indigenous Education Council members.
NIC began consultation with communities in 2019 for its strategic plan. More than 1,500 people and organizations participated before COVID-19 forced the postponement of the plan.
“My role as the college’s new president is to make sure we continue to hear the voices before COVID, but that we make sure we’re hearing how those needs have changed as a result of COVID,” said Domae. “COVID has caused a lot of people to just pause for a second and consider what it is they really want to do with the next phase of their lives. We have been seeing more people come to NIC to explore what that might mean for them.”
For some people, that means adding more skills in a new or an old area. For others, COVID-19 has driven an interest in the health-care field.
COVID-19 has had a “transformational” effect on the college, said Domae, as NIC had to transform the delivery of education from mostly face-to-face to mostly remote. NIC will continue to offer remote forms of learning, said Domae, even when the pandemic is over.
“There are some people who just don’t have the time or the space to come to campus,” she explained.
COVID-19 also affected the college’s international student base. NIC has a very strong international student population.
“Sadly, because of COVID and the inability of people to travel, our program for international education has not seen these students come in as they have before,” said Domae. “We are working very hard that as soon as borders open we will be able to re-grow that program.”
The mission of BUILD 2026 is to build healthy and resilient communities, one student at a time.
“That really shows our commitment to working with community, in community and to support the development of communities through education and training,” said Domae. “The vision talks about the college’s role in developing the best individualized education and training experience in the province. That speaks to our strengths, our roots as a college that began as one without walls back in 1976 and delivered all of its education remotely.”
She is hoping the strategic plan will be completed by late spring.
“Communities are telling us what they needed from NIC before remains true today, but they need it in some different ways,” said Domae. Some of the feedback they have received asks for more work with economic recovery, a greater focus on the college’s responsibilities to Indigenization and reconciliation and a greater focus on social and environmental justice.
Domae is now inviting everyone in the community to share their feedback for the draft strategic plan. The draft is available online at engage.nic.bc.ca.