New Board Chair named for UNBC

Media Release
Person wearing blue suit, shirt and tie stands in building atrium.
Joel McKay, a champion for community initiatives across northern B.C. is the new chair of the UNBC Board of Governors.

Prince George, B.C. – Joel McKay, a well-known advocate for northern British Columbia, has been named the new Chair of the University of Northern British Columbia’s Board of Governors. McKay has been a provincially appointed representative on the Board since July 31, 2020, and was recently re-appointed for another three-year term running July 31, 2023 to July 31, 2026.

McKay is the CEO of the Northern Development Initiative Trust, an independent non-profit corporation that stimulates economic growth through investments in grassroots, community-led projects. He is also a former journalist, author and an incoming graduate student at UNBC, studying English literature.

“UNBC is one of the best universities in Canada. Access to exceptional post-secondary education in the North is vital to our ongoing success as a region,” says McKay. “We attract outstanding students who are supported by world-class faculty and staff, which sees UNBC graduates enter the world equipped with the knowledge they need to effect meaningful change. The Board is grateful to all the supporters, champions and communities who inspire UNBC to be amongst the best at what we do.”

McKay received an award from the British Columbia Economic Development Association that recognizes significant contributions towards the economic development profession, and the Don Rennie Award for Excellence in Government Communications from the Canadian Public Relations Society. He has also served on the Board of Destination BC for the past five years. He holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, where he was also named a distinguished alumni member in 2016.

"UNBC is transforming the lives of individuals through dedicated teaching and groundbreaking research that fosters local solutions that have far-reaching impact. This remarkable progress is a testament to the unwavering commitment and tireless efforts of our students, alumni, faculty, staff, supporters, and the integral role played by our governing bodies, the Senate and Board," says UNBC President Dr. Geoff Payne. "During his time on the UNBC Board, Joel has consistently displayed leadership; I eagerly anticipate collaborating closely with him and the Board. I also thank UNBC’s outgoing Chair Catherine Wishart for her exceptional leadership over the past two years and am pleased she’s remaining on the Board to support continuity."

In addition to the Board Chair election, Michael Reed remains as the vice-chair of the Board. Reed is a member of the Red Pheasant Cree First Nation and a lawyer. He sits on the Board of the Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, and has served as a Director with Community Futures Stuart Nechako, as a Senator for the UNBC Senate and as a Director and Treasurer for the UNBC First Nations Student Society. He earned his Bachelor of Laws from the University of New Brunswick and a Bachelor of Commerce with a minor in Economics from UNBC.

The 15-member UNBC Board of Governors has oversight and responsibility for the management, administration, and finances of the University. The University Act of British Columbia sets-out the membership of the Board, which is composed of the Chancellor, UNBC President, eight members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor in Council, and five elected by the University community (two students, two faculty members, and one staff member). The Board of Governors meets at least four times per year to conduct its general business; the next regular meeting is scheduled for Sept. 15.