The Master of Education in Educational Leadership alumnus brings with her to her new position more than 18 years of experience in the college sector, as well 15 years before that as a licensed professional engineer.
“It’s going really well so far. I’m totally excited to be here,” Claggett said in an interview two-and-a-half weeks into her new role at Belleville, Ontario-based post-secondary institution, which was last year named one of Canada’s Top 50 research colleges
“It’s been a very, very welcoming experience. Everyone seems just as excited that I’m here as I am to be here, so that’s a good thing.”
In a statement announcing her appointment, Loyalist’s Senior Vice-President Academic, Sean Monteith, lauded Claggett as an “innovative and strategic leader” who is squarely focused on building strong and impactful teams, enabling collegial and collaborative partnerships, and taking on new challenges to advance change and continuous improvement.
“As an educator, she is deeply committed to the scholarship of teaching and learning, lifelong learning, and student success,” Monteith said. “We warmly welcome Shannon and are very much looking forward to having her joining the senior academic team at Loyalist College.”
Born and raised in small town Manitoba into a family of educators, Claggett initially had plans to study music performance (she won a scholarship for clarinet), before changing her mind after her high school graduation and enrolling in the University of Manitoba’s Civil Engineering program instead.
After graduating with her Bachelor of Science in 1987, Claggett took on a construction management position – a job that, as a female in the ’80s, was a gutsy career move.
“It wasn’t easy. I think in today’s world, it would’ve been more accepted, but back then it wasn’t. I learned a lot, though, and I gained a lot of backbone from that experience,” she said, noting that, after six years in that position, she moved on to work as an associate and project manager for Dillon Consulting Ltd. from 1991-2003.
“I did that for almost 15 years and absolutely loved every second of it.”
It was also while working at Dillon that Claggett got her first taste of teaching via a request from Algonquin College for someone at her firm to help develop and teach their then-new Environmental Engineering program.
While Claggett had never considered teaching before, she took to it quickly and found she enjoyed it. So much so, in fact, that she enrolled in the Bachelor of Education in Adult Education program at Brock University in order to hone her classroom skills, graduating in 2003.
“It was all coincidental. As a young person with family in education, I swore I was never going to be a teacher – however, here I am,” she laughed, crediting the Algonquin experience for opening her eyes to the possibilities that awaited her in education.
Soon after finishing earning her Bachelor’s degree in Education, Claggett and her young family relocated to Kingston, Ontario, where, again, a chance encounter with a neighbour who worked at St. Lawrence College led to more opportunities – first as a professor and coordinator of the school’s Civil Engineering Technology program (from 2003 to 2007), then as Associate Dean its School of Applied Science and Computing (from 2007 to 2021).
During her time in that latter role, Claggett developed expertise in all facets of program delivery, including: curriculum design and program development; lab design; capital equipment procurement and facilitation; program and school budgeting; quality assurance and improvement; applied research; industry partnerships and internationalization.
A self-described lifelong learner, she said she always knew she wanted to further her education at the Master’s level in order to advance her career, but it wasn’t until discovering Yorkville University’s online Master of Education in Educational Leadership program that she found the right fit for her and her busy schedule.
“I kept seeing that those people getting more advanced roles all had at least a Master’s degree…so I decided that Master’s of Education would be the best thing for me,” she said, “and the Yorkville program was perfect in that it was online, it could be done remotely, and that fit my lifestyle.”
Lauding Yorkville’s “excellent” faculty for their guidance throughout the program, Claggett credits her new Master’s credential, which she earned in 2018, coupled with her extensive experience in both engineering and education, for helping her to land her new gig as Dean of Loyalist’s School of Applied Sciences, Skills and Technology.
Now that she’s settled into her first few weeks on the job, Claggett says she’s looking forward to working with her new team to make an already great school even greater.
“The college system in Ontario is fabulous, and Loyalist is very much a part of that community. We have great programs here, great faculty, and great students – and I’m so happy to be a part of it,” she said.