The woman who has led Lambton College through recent expansion and success is stepping down.
President and CEO Judith Morris said last week she would retire at the end of this year to spend more time with family.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley called Morris, “Simply the best.”
With her personality and people skills, she and her team transformed the Sarnia campus into a modern facility while building bridges across the community, he said.
“She became the human face of Lambton College to many in Sarnia-Lambton. She will be greatly missed.”
Between 2014 and 2019, Lambton College posted a 171% increase in International student enrolment, a 90% increase in Indigenous student enrolment, and was named the #1 research college in Canada.
It also completed $79 million in capital additions that included an athletics complex, a health centre, and an energy and bio-industrial centre.
“To be honest with you, I never envisioned becoming a president,” Morris told The Journal in a 2018 interview. “To be here is just shocking to me.”
The New Liskeard, Ont. native joined the college as VP of academic and student success in 2002, and was appointed president and CEO in 2012.
Her mom was a schoolteacher and dad a businessman. She spent her summers teaching swimming lessons at the family cottage.
After studying sociology at Western University, Morris worked with developmentally challenged youth at an Oakville group home.
She earned an education degree at the University of Toronto and began her first teaching job at Bramalea Secondary, an ethnically diverse school with behavioural challenges.
As a young high school teacher in the 1980s, Morris got her bus-driver licence so she could take students from low-income and immigrant families on field trips.
To the dismay of school administrators at Bramalea Secondary, baboons set upon her school bus during a well-intentioned trip to African Lion Safari and stripped it of mirrors and trim.
“You can imagine,” Morris said with a laugh, “how thrilled the high school principal was with me.”
Morris arrived at Lambton in 2002 after being recruited by president Tony Hanlon for the new position of VP of academics and student success.
When Hanlon retired, she beat out 40 other candidates to become the college’s first woman president in 2012.
During her first year, Lambton recorded an 8% enrolment increase.