TIMMINS -- Northern College has named a new president after a nationwide search: Audrey Penner, the college’s vice-president of academics, will take up the mantle in early August.

She succeeds current president Fred Gibbons, who is retiring. Penner said quality of and access to education are cornerstones of her vision and played important roles in building her career. She plans to expand on that vision in her new role.

“Knowing the value of education in improving one’s quality of life is a lived experience for me,” Penner said in a statement. “Having been a single mother of four children, I am acutely aware of the various challenges associated with access to affordable and quality post-secondary education.

"That being the case, my role is to inspire students, faculty and staff through innovation and empowerment as Northern’s president.”

Gibbons said in a news release the college has a bright future with Penner at the helm.

“I am only too pleased to see that the board has appointed Dr. Penner for this position,” Gibbons said in a release. “I am confident she will take the organization to new and exciting places with her strategic vision and the innovative approach she brings to the role.”

In her six years at the college, Penner is credited with developing its applied research department and implementing the college’s digital education strategy, which college officials say helped with the transition to online learning during the pandemic. She is also credited with increasing the college’s international student enrolment in the face of declining local numbers.

Penner is set to start her new role on Aug. 4, while Gibbons will continue working at the college in an advisory position until Aug. 31 to help with the transition.