Lapadat breaks ground on student role

Being in on the ground floor is a comfortable position for Dr. Judith Lapadat, the University's first associate vice-president (students). It should serve her well as the University carves new ground with a position dedicated to student success and enhancing the student experience.

"I had an opportunity to start with the University of Northern British Columbia when it was just a hole in the ground in 1993," says Lapadat, a native of Smithers, B.C. "I did a lot of program development and building during those first 11 years in Prince George and that's one of the things that really intrigues me about this position, the opportunity to be involved in building and developing something new."

Judith Lapadat
Dr. Judith Lapadat is the University's first associate vice-president (students).

Reporting to the vice-president (academic), Lapadat will oversee the Registrar's Office and Student Services. By creating the role, the U of L is making a major step forward as it continues to devote resources to better serving its students.

"There's a big gap between talking about it and actually doing it," says Lapadat of the pledge to continually enhance the student experience. "There is a long history of very good services for students here but the University is going through a renewal process when it comes to our view of students and how to serve them better. At present, student services are somewhat fractured and spread all over the place."

Lapadat sees a great opportunity to better co-ordinate these services, to consolidate them so that students have a one-stop shopping experience and to build communication bridges between Faculties and departments responsible for student services.

"I think it needs some renewal, probably because it was designed for a much smaller student body. It's almost as if it has grown organically and now it's time to take another look at how we best meet the needs of students 20 or 30 years after that original conception."

Lapadat's experience at UNBC had her involved in developing the School of Education, masters' degree programming, and the Bachelor of Education program. When she later took on the role of Chair of UNBC's Northwest Region, her emphasis was placed on student service needs, blended learning and developing a broad array of community-based programs. She worked closely with marginalized student groups and had the opportunity to develop relationships between multiple campuses.

"I'm really interested in the development of the University's northern campuses," says Lapadat. "Having come from a regionalized university, I have a good sense of how that can work and be effective. I also want to reach out to students who haven't been as large a component of the student body, such as international students, aboriginal students, and mature learners, and to help expand graduate student enrollment."

She has been charged with a broad portfolio, and it's one she's excited to tackle. She's also enthused about living in Lethbridge and the possibilities it holds. An accomplished painter and poet, Lapadat sees inspiration in the landscape.

"It does intrigue me," she says. "The years that I lived in Regina I was quite actively painting and this area offers a lot of opportunities."

She and her husband have a blended family of five children, the youngest of which is their 18-year-old son who is in Lethbridge for the summer and entering his second year of studies in the fall.

"I'm happy to join the University of Lethbridge," says Lapadat. "I've been impressed with the people. They have a huge commitment to this university and it's an exciting environment to come into."

This story first appeared in the June 2012 issue of the Legend. For a look at the entire issue in flipbook format, follow this link.