Algonquin College's newest President and CEO, Claude Brulé. Image courtesy of Algonquin College.

Over the summer, Algonquin College welcomed its ninth and newest president, a familiar face and long-time innovator at the college, Claude Brulé.

President Brulé has worked at the college since 1999. He’s been the driving force behind personalized learning and continues to place individual learners’ needs at top priority. The Times sat down with Brulé and asked about his new role and life on campus.

What does it mean to be president of Algonquin College?

For me, being president means being in service of the institution and being able to support all our employees to be their best, in support of our mission at Algonquin College. We have a great team and I’m delighted to be leading the institution. We have some exciting projects and initiatives that are underway right now, leading with our learners. Our first goal is always to be learner focused, and enhance the personalized learning experience and college experience for our students.

What are some challenges you faced in school when you were a student?

My goodness. For me, it was probably things that weren’t science. I loved physics, mathematics and chemistry. I was good with those. Where I needed more assistance was things like poetry, literature and writing.

What advice would you give to new students?

I always tell students to follow what they want to be passionate about. Study well, study diligently but don’t forget to have fun and find meaning in what you’re learning. It’s so important that you don’t want this to be a chore, you’re developing your craft, make this something you’re going to enjoy doing.

How do you handle stressful situations?

Well, I have a couple of puppies, that certainly when I get home, I can go for a walk with them and my wife. We have a gym in our basement as well if I need to sweat it out. (He has two Shih Tzus, both of which are small, portable and hypoallergenic.)

If you could single-handedly change something at the college what would it be?

I used to joke about having a water feature [at the college.] Eventually, we developed the Storm Water Management Pond (located behind P and S buildings) and people said, ‘Well there you go. Claude, you’ve got your water feature.’ But what I had in mind was something that you could sit around, something that was a bit more zen. A fountain or something that creates a focal point for people to be around and to take pictures. In the winter it could freeze, and you could skate on it.

What’s your favourite spot to hang out in on campus?

The Ishkodewan Courtyard; the beautiful re-design, all the Indigenous plants, it’s a beautiful spot and I’m so glad our students are discovering it.

What’s your favourite place to eat on campus?

I like the main food court area. (Marketplace Food Court in D building) I usually end up at the salad bar, I’m a vegetarian by the way. So for me, I always go for those things that cater to the vegetarian diet.

Who is your role model?

I have people that have mentored me over the years, people that have helped me throughout my career as I moved up. Certainly they’re my go-to people when I have questions or have things I want to bounce off them. No one specific.

Did you ever have a role model growing up?

For me, it was probably my parents, my mom in particular. Somebody that I took a lot of wisdom and inspiration from.

What was the last thing that you read/saw in the news that interested you?

I believe it was a study from StatsCan speaking to the earnings of college degree grads versus university degree grads. It positions our graduates very well in that study. There’s always been questions whether a college degree is like a university degree, and our degrees are on par. To see that validation in a study like this is nice to see.

What’s your most memorable summer moment?

Ah there’s so many, hah. Being with the family, our daughter and her boyfriend at our house, doing an activity. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just spending family time together.

What’s your favourite vacation hot spot?

The Caribbean. I’m partial to Grenada. I just love the island, love the people.

What would you say your spirit animal would be?

Hah, my spirit animal? Gosh… well, my wife always says I’m an otter.