Paula-Burns.jpg Paula Burns, PhD, MBA

President and CEO

Dr. Paula Burns, the eighth president and CEO of Lethbridge College, is a collaborative leader who invests her commitment, passion and energy to advance education and to support and create a safe and respectful learning environment for all students and staff. Paula is a lifelong learner and appreciates the many opportunities she has to interact with students, employees, industry partners and the community at large.

With a commitment to collaboration, inclusiveness and community engagement, and a strong focus on the student experience and student success, Paula is leading Lethbridge College to be bold and innovative while ensuring the college’s mission of inspiring and facilitating learning and innovation to meet economic and social needs is front of mind. 

Paula is active in the community and serves on a variety of boards in southern Alberta and beyond. She is the Board Chair for Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan); Chair of Alberta’s Comprehensive Community Colleges Presidents’ working group; and a member of the Council of Post-Secondary Presidents of Alberta. Paula has also served as a member of CICan’s Indigenous Education Committee, which launched the Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes in 2015; she is also a member and past Board Chair of the Board of Directors for Economic Development Lethbridge. In 2018, she earned a Women of Distinction Lifetime Achievement award from YWCA Lethbridge and District.

Paula came to Lethbridge College in February 2013 from NAIT, where she previously served as provost and vice president academic. She has brought a wealth of experience with her, having worked with and in a variety of departments across post-secondary institutions – from teaching to curriculum development to leadership.

Paula got her own start in higher education as a college student at Fanshawe College in London, ON, where she earned her Respiratory Therapy diploma in 1987. From there she went on to the University of Waterloo, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in 1996; Central Michigan University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Education in 1999 with a specialization in community college leadership; the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, where she earned her PhD in 2005; and Royal Roads University, where she earned her executive MBA in 2010 with a specialization in leadership.


As the president and CEO of Lethbridge College, Paula devotes her time and attention to the general direction and oversight of the college’s operations. Her leadership and accountability extends from the implementation of the college’s Comprehensive Institutional Plan (CIP) to the execution of duties and responsibilities assigned by the board of governors, and encompasses:

  • adherence to all policies, bylaws and procedures established by the board
  • all phases of the operation, administration, supervision, maintenance and promotion of the college
  • development, promotion and implementation of sound policies and objectives for the advancement and development of the college
  • development and monitoring of college policies and practices related to the recruitment, hiring, supervision, instruction and discipline of college employees within the framework of applicable collective agreements

Adhering to the highest standard of professional competence, Paula acts in the best interests of the college in securing and promoting its educational, community, administrative and financial objectives.

You can read a more comprehensive framework of Paula’s assigned duties and responsibilities in the president and CEO contract.


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