At first glance you would think that Algonquin’s first female president, Cheryl Jensen is used to being underestimated.
Her petite stature won’t prevent her from spending a lot of time with students – and providing a positive role model to young women.
Following the departure of Kent MacDonald back in July, Jensen, the former vice-president of Mohawk College in Hamilton, has settled in nicely to her new residence in Ottawa and her president’s desk at the college.
Jensen’s first order of business is simple – she wants to introduce herself to students, faculty and staff and provide a listening ear.
“I’m a mingler,” said Jensen. “So I’ll be going out into the hallways talking to students in line at Tim Hortons and places like that…going to games, dropping in on recreational tournaments over the weekend, and just making them feel that I’m interested in what they’re doing.”
Along with wandering the halls, Jensen plans on hosting open sessions with students and staff to talk about what’s going well and what can be improved on.
Student’s Association President Christina Miller said Jensen left a favorable impression on her because she sat down with the SA before anyone else in the college.
“This spoke very clearly to me that she was passionate about student success,” said Miller. “My first impression was a woman who was ready to listen to and make changes for students; she is truly driven by the students.”
Jensen hopes to continue being a role model at Algonquin, not just as the college’s first female president but also in relation to the campuses in Saudi Arabia.
“Having a female president go over to Saudi Arabia and show women in those countries what’s possible with education and with opportunity, I think, is a good message for those countries.”
Jensen believes that the best way to provoke changes in countries that are imbalanced is through education and engagement, stating that it is only through education that people can eliminate feelings of discrimination and inequality.
“So I think this is a step in something that is greater that we can do for countries like Saudi Arabia,” said Jensen.
With confirmation that a referendum on the U-Pass will indeed be taking place, Jensen explained that one of her first orders of business was to meet with Mayor Jim Watson and subsequently SA President Christina Miller to make sure they have all the information they need.
“Ultimately it’s a student decision,” said Jensen. “It’ll have to go to a referendum but I think if we are open and transparent with all the benefits and potential disadvantages of the U-Pass the student body can make their mind up and I’m confident we’ll be able to do that.”
Jensen’s credentials and passion for student success are undoubtedly the reason why she ultimately landed the position.
Board of Governor’s member Fred Blackstein said that from his personal perspective he was most impressed with Jensen’s 30-plus years of experience and the “broad scope of her responsibilities, committee activities and enthusiasm.”
Jensen hopes that the best person was chosen for the job and that it didn’t have anything to do with her gender.
“I started out in technology and I was a dean of engineering technology,” said Jensen. “I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been a role model.”