New prez on the block

Header image for Interrobang article CREDIT: STEPHANIE LAI
Peter Devlin is the new president of Fanshawe College. He took over for retired college president Dr. Howard Rundle.

He sat behind the mahogany conference table on a comfy, leather swivel chair. Burgundy leather placemats, stamped with the Fanshawe College logo, were neatly placed in front each of the same comfy, leather swivel chairs that surrounded the table.

Peter Devlin, new college president and a dad in his 50s, sat down with Interrobang to introduce himself to the Fanshawe student population.

“I'm a family guy. [I have] four kids,” he said. “My kids keep me out of trouble, they keep me engaged.”

This family man served in the military for 35 years. “I had the great fortune of commanding the Canadian Army.”

Changing from the head of the Army to the head of a college hasn't been that much of a shift, though, as there are many commonalities. “I think that what I've been doing for many years in the military is very similar to what happens here in Fanshawe,” said Devlin. “The army attracts bright Canadians. We inspire them, we educate them, we make them a part of a team, we allow them to represent Canada...and that's just what Fanshawe does.”

It's only been a few short weeks since he took the reins of the college, but Devlin described his transition into Fanshawe as “phenomenal.”

“My hands are sore from shaking hands,” he said with a chuckle. “I know most of the faces, but I'm still struggling with names. There have been a bunch of events that have been organized that allowed the transition to be really smooth, and I feel welcomed here.”

He said he has already established his favourite part of the job.

“The students. It's so easy to say,” he quickly replied. “How I came to that quick understanding was on day one.” On the first day of school on September 3, Devlin roamed the college halls to speak to students. “The halls [were] filled with energy, filled with enthusiasm, filled with smiles, and it was just nice. It was really special to experience that.”

He commended the services available to students. “There are great support [teams], there's outstanding sports, intramurals, a great campus [and] a great, friendly life here inside the halls of Fanshawe.”

Devlin may have spent three decades in the military, but he seems to be enjoying the job shift.

“There [were] a few rules for life in the military, so life here at Fanshawe has a bit more freedom to it. [It] has a lot more room for being creative,” he said. “Not that the military wasn't creative — it's different.”

He does have some advice for students. “I think [students] should be engaged as possible in the host of activities that Fanshawe provides.”

“I think they picked a really good place to learn, and while I hope that they lean on the faculty and staff, they also lean on their friends while they're here. Friends that will be friends for life.”

While he's still on a learning curve, he looks at this transition period as a time to reflect. “There's some wonderful experience and wisdom in the leadership of the college. I look to achieve close to their level of understanding,” he said.

“Together, look to the future and the role that Fanshawe has in the region for what we educate students on tomorrow.”