Fairweather bids farewell to St. Lawrence College
St. Lawrence College dean Don Fairweather is easily recognizable. That’s because the tall man prides himself in meeting face to face with students. In other words, Fairweather isn’t scared of donning on the occasional clown or prisoner outfit, in the hopes of raising awareness for an array of causes. The imposing man is set to retire in the coming weeks.
A native of Cornwall, the blue-eyed man boasts quite an impressive resume. He attended the Cornwall Collegiate and Vocational School (CCVS) before studying at McMaster’s University and Queen’s.
“My education did serve me quite well,” he admits, a smile in the corners of his mouth.
Fairweather started his teaching career as a high-school teacher, before climbing the echelons and becoming a high-school vice-principal. Then, he became a principal before being named an executive superintendent for the Upper Canada District School Board. He then became dean of the college, in October of 2007. “I had always worked in smaller schools, where the educative institution was the very hub of the community.”
He then concedes that the very workings of the college are practically the same.
“I started working at the college close to Thanksgiving day,” he says from his office overlooking the beautiful St. Lawrence River. “But after 40 years of full-time work, I’ve decided to retire. My wife and I want to travel more.”
The man hopes to see Ireland, Italy, the American West Coast, all the while spending more time in Florida.
Under his leadership, the once small college has seen a rapid increase in studentship. “We’ve managed to increase the attendance of students by about 25 per cent,” he says proudly. “But it wasn’t my own doing. We were able to achieve such a goal because of our great team. We have very dedicated teachers and staff members and we all work for a common purpose, the students.”
When he initially arrived, the college’s doors welcomed on average 950 full-time students, whereas now, around 1200 call the St. Lawrence College their own.
“I simply love being here,” maintains Fairweather. “It was a joy to come in to work every day.”
In addition, the dean takes pride in the fact that 30 per cent of people studying at the college are first generation students. “They are the first in their family to pursue a post-secondary education,” he says. “That means that they will probably be able to get a better paying job than their parents and will therefore be able to get a better pay, resulting in a better life and a better community.”