49 Langarans

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David Turpin

Langara Alum | Academic Leader & Scientist

This ‘problem kid’ became a university president

How Dave Turpin became a student at Langara College — and then the president and vice-chancellor at the University of Alberta — is an odd story.

Turpin readily admits he started as a student who was “profoundly bored in high school” and not doing well.

“I could be outstanding if I liked the teacher and I found the material exciting, I would be below average and be a discipline problem if I was bored,” he said.

One day during grade 9 Guidance class, the teacher announced that if anyone was interested in graduating early, they should stay after class for more information.

Turpin remembers everyone else leaving the classroom after the bell sounded, but he walked up to the teacher’s desk.

“The teacher looked at me and said, ‘Turpin, what are you doing here? You’re too stupid.’”

Later that night his mother learned of the teacher’s remarks, and by the next day the teacher had changed his tune and told Turpin what he needed to do.

“All of the sudden my marks went up,” he said, adding that by the end of Grade 11, he was only missing one course for graduation.

“Rather than hanging around high school I saw that I could register at Langara, I could make up that high school course, and I did a full first-year load,” he said. “I so enjoyed it that I stayed a second year there, too.”

He went on to complete further schooling and today he has a PhD as well as an established scientific research and leadership career.

“What Langara did for me is provide that opportunity to transition to post-secondary school in a non-traditional way,” he said. “We all have very different learning styles. What I found is I learn best when it’s experiential, really interactive, and when I can go at my own pace.

“High school was simply not motivating to me, whereas I found when I got to Langara there were opportunities to be independent and a self-starter.”

The learning style fits with his career as a scientist, he added.

“It’s not doing what somebody tells you, it’s doing what you recognize is important to learn,” he said. “That’s what any education should do; it should empower you to learn.”

As the 13th president of the University of Alberta and in former leadership roles, including 13 years as president of the University of Victoria, he said he supports courses offering different learning opportunities, such as lectures, readings, and interactive online material.

“Some people want to read a book, others want a lecture,” he said. “And people with different learning styles are now finding it easier to fit in.”

Courtesy of Black Press Media

49 Facts — NO. 35

Langara has partnership, exchange, and transfer agreements with universities across Canada and around the world, including Queen’s University in Ontario, Griffiths University in Australia, and the University of Sussex in England.

Meet more 49 Langarans.

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    Jim Goard

    Retired Employee | Langara Pioneer

    Jim was Langara’s first Director of Information and Educational Technology, a position he held until he retired after 37 years of service. During his tenure, the department grew from a team of three people to an organization of over 50 who supported both administrative and instructional systems and resources. An active supporter of Langara’s Co-op Program, Jim hired many Langara students to work in the department. Jim was heavily involved in the ongoing implementation and support of the College’s many administrative systems, including those developed and acquired to support the operation of Langara when it separated from Vancouver Community College. Jim was also responsible for acquiring, implementing, and managing instructional computer resources and technology including computer labs, networks, and instructional software applications. A passionate advocate for cooperation and knowledge sharing, Jim was a founding member of the Higher Education Information Technology BC organization and was actively involved with its annual IT4BC conferences, BC’s premier conference for post-secondary education. For many years, Jim was also the Chair of the Langara College Administrators Association.

  • Avram Agov

    Avram Agov

    Current Employee | Scholar & Humanitarian

    Avram is an instructor in the Asian Studies department at Langara College and part of the Langara Asia Field School program. He received a BA in philosophy and history at Sofia University and was a visiting scholar at Columbia University on a Fulbright Fellowship. Avram worked at Samsung Electronics in Korea for six years and is the author of several academic papers on North Korea. He worked with the Eugene Bell Foundation on humanitarian programs to assist those from North Korea, especially in the area of tuberculosis. He has an MA in Regional Studies East Asia from Harvard University and a PhD in History from UBC. He did his specialization at Jiatong University in Shanghai and completed his postdoctoral programs at Harvard and UBC.

  • VOLT Volunteer Program Founders

    VOLT Volunteer Program Founders

    Langara Alumni & Current Employee | Volunteer Advocates

    Jade Arignon, Warren Springer, and Clayton Munro are the trio behind the creation of Langara’s remarkable VOLT Student Volunteer program. Started while Jade and Warren were still students at Langara and championed by Clayton, the Dean of Student Services, VOLT’s mandate was to create community engagement, social awareness, and student development through volunteerism. Proud VOLT volunteers are now a fixture at every Langara event, welcoming and helping fellow students onto campus; creating change by leading Langara neighbourhood clean ups; and supporting dozens of off-campus organizations, including the Greater Vancouver Food Bank and the Metro Vancouver Parks. Since its humble beginnings in 2010, the program has grown by leaps and bounds to include over 3,000 student volunteers, generate more than 73,000 volunteer hours, and engage an entire generation of students to learn new skills, gain experience, and give back to the community.

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