West Nipissing’s CAO joins Laurentian’s board of governors

Jay Barbeau, West Nipissing’s chief administrative officer, has joined the Board of Governors at Laurentian University in Sudbury. Rest assured, Barbeau will continue to serve West Nipissing – he will remain as CAO – but he’s happy to have the opportunity to give back to the community by volunteering time for the board.

CAO is a demanding role to hold, and Barbeau has held the seat in West Nipissing for 23 years. He’s not ready to go yet, but within the next few years, he does plan to wind down, and take some walks down other paths.

“The nature of the business we have here doesn’t really allow for a lot of extra time,” Barbeau noted. And although Barbeau will not be with the municipality forever – “the twilight of my career,” he mentioned a few times – he still has much to contribute to West Nipissing.

The new council “is excellent,” he said. “They have a ton of energy, and it’s a lot of fun to get back on track with them.”

Overall, the work and the people have re-energized the CAO, and he wants to help council put systems in place to ensure smooth sailing for many years and terms to come. “It’s to just set the systems in place that could make our council successful.”

Once accomplished, “I’ll probably be heading off into the sunset.”

He’s excited for his new role on the Board of Governors and looks forward to working with the 15 other voting board members who serve the university. With so much experience on the administrative side of things, Barbeau now finds himself “on the other side of the table.”

“I’m not in the kitchen anymore,” he joked. “I’m actually at the policy making level now.”

Laurentian University has made lots of news in the past years. Filing for insolvency, dealing with financial issues, and cutting many French language programs has done little to bolster its reputation for some.

See: After 22 months, Laurentian finally exits creditor protection

However, Barbeau, who attended Laurentian, understands these issues will be overcome.

“Laurentian has a very critical role to play in the health of Northern Ontario,” he said. “I have always valued the education I received there, and I believe that their issues were never about the quality of education.”

Barbeau will also serve as a member of the Governance Committee, the Property and Finance Committee, and he’s been appointed to the Bilingualism Subcommittee. He’s looking forward to contributing.

“I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues at the table to re-establish its reputation as a leading undergraduate university with postgraduate offerings.”

There are two more board meetings this year, October 20, and December 15. Although these responsibilities add more to Barbeau’s plate, he still has lots to give to West Nipissing, and he’s certainly not ready to ride into the sunset yet.

David Briggs is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of BayToday, a publication of Village Media. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca