Ara Council Chair changes

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01 May 2017

After an “extremely busy, challenging and rewarding few years” Chair of the Ara Council Jenn Bestwick has resigned.

She will be replaced by political commentator, academic and expert government advisor Dr. Thérèse Arseneau who has been appointed Chair of the Ara Council, the Minister for Tertiary Education Paul Goldsmith has announced.

Ara Chief Executive Kay Giles thanked Jenn for an eventful seven years as Chair during which she saw south island’s largest polytechnic through earthquakes, a merger between CPIT and Aoraki Polytechnic and the creation of Ara Institute of Canterbury. Jenn served on the council for almost 12 years in total.

“We have enjoyed an excellent working relationship through an interesting period of the history of the institute,” Giles said. “Jenn brought significant skills to the council and she leaves Ara in excellent shape. The institution is in excellent health in terms of its educational delivery; student outcomes; relationships with the employers, schools and wider Canterbury community; and financial performance.”

Last year Ara underwent its External Education Review (EER) with the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA), achieving the highest possible rating of "Highly Confident/Highly Confident".

“I am extremely appreciative of having had the opportunity to provide governance leadership to CPIT and subsequently Ara over this period and very proud of all the institution has achieved and contributed to the Canterbury and New Zealand vocational education and training landscape in recent years,” Bestwick commented.

Bestwick’s term as Chair was scheduled to finish in April 2018 but Kay Giles’ retirement on 30 June influenced her decision to resign before then, so that the incoming Chair could be involved in the CEO appointment process.

“Both Jenn and I are pleased the appointment of Dr Thérèse Arseneau as the new Chair of the Ara Council who brings impressive business, political  and educational acumen to the role,” Giles said. “Her expertise and experience will no doubt lead Ara to more success in the future.”

The remaining council members are as committed as ever to serving the institute and providing continuity and stability, Bestwick reassured. Likewise, the “very strong” executive team “with many years of educational leadership experience” have committed to working through the transition to the new CE, whose appointment will be announced in June.