Northern College Continues to Accelerate Digital Transformation to Maintain Lead in Technology and Digital Learning Experiences

Northern College News and Events

TIMMINS, ON: New advancements in the way of digital transformation at Northern College continue to be made, resulting in responsive and dynamic teaching and learning in the areas of post-secondary, apprenticeship, contract training, and research for the institution.

Northern’s newest update is by way of additional resources being allotted at the leadership level in the creation of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) position for the organization. After a nation-wide search, Frédéric Nickner has been found to be the successful candidate to join the College’s Information Technology (IT) as well as Senior Management (SMT) teams.

Nickner, who is currently the Registrar at Mohawk College, has served as acting CIO and acting VP Student Services for Mohawk. He is originally from Timmins, with previous experience working at Collège Boréal, as well. Fluently bilingual, and having a strong background in data management, Nickner will also be overseeing Institutional Research as part of his portfolio with the College.

“We are pleased to see the College continue to respond well to the increased need for digital advances in teaching, learning and research,” says Dr. Audrey J. Penner of the hire, “and we will need to stay at the forefront of these areas. Known for his team building and strategy, Frédéric understands the technology-driven needs of the college system, and the seamless approaches required to achieve a digital transformation. He will provide vision, leadership, direction, and management, along with strategic and human resource planning to this is a new role for our College, one so critical to the direction in which we are headed,” added Penner.

With the promotion of Northern’s previous Vice President, Academic and Student Success (VPASS) Dr. Audrey J. Penner, to the role of President, Glenn MacDougall served as acting VPASS during the past year. MacDougall came to Northern to fill the role of Director of IT. While working as acting VPASS, that role has been filled with acting IT Director Alain Grenier, a staff member of Northern. MacDougall announced his retirement earlier this year which prompted Northern to review operations and create the new position.

“We are in the excellent place that we are, and seeing the growth that we have been, to a large degree, because of the hard work of Glenn, Al, and the entire IT team here at Northern,” said Penner. “Of the College system, we are the only organization to have not yet seen the devastating impacts of the pandemic, in large part, because we were at the ready. This, and our smaller population, insulated us from seeing the ravages Covid-19 could have brought with it,” she added.

Northern’s applications have increased exponentially over the past year, its domestic enrolment numbers are comparable to previous years, and the College has not had a Covid outbreak. Further, Northern has not had to permanently lay off staff, or have needed to close any post-secondary programs due to the impacts of Covid. Some of Northern’s campuses, like Kirkland Lake, are seeing record trends of increased growth of 70 per cent. The College is also responding to Covid by helping to retrain, upskill or further support the workforce that is needing additional resources in many program areas at no cost.

“We will continue to move forward to respond to the needs of learners, industry and the region, and as we do so, we are grateful to Glenn, Al, and the IT Team who have moved us into this strong position provincially while we also welcome Frédéric to take us to the next level of the digital transformation currently occurring here.”

“I am eager to be a part of an organization that sees the importance of learner-centric approaches to digital transformation initiatives to this degree,” says Nickner of his new role. “Being responsible for the leadership, direction and development of technology is exciting, and I look forward to working with the impressive staff at Northern to implement and maintain Northern College’s digital strategy to continue to grow the organization and the Northern region of the province where I was born and raised, returning home to my hometown after twenty years of being away. It feels good to know I can be a part of this purposeful work.”

Nickner will be responsible for the development of technology standards, institutional research, and the establishment of technology–based strategic partnership with business, industry, other educational institutions and/or government funders.

He begins in his new position effective October 1.

Dr. Penner has recently written an article on the topic of digital transformation in the post-secondary sector which can be found at:


Media Contact:
Kyle Gennings
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T. 705-235-3211 ext., 2276
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