CHRIS SCHWARZ/GOVERNMENT OF ALBERTA
New minister swears (to do his best)
New minister has background in education and politics
Gordon Dirks, Alberta’s new minister of education, is no stranger to education or politics.
Dirks, who takes over the education portfolio from Jeff Johnson, was sworn into office Sept. 15. One of three unelected members of the cabinet, Dirks will seek a seat in a byelection, expected this fall.
Born in Saskatoon, Dirks served as a public school teacher, vice-principal and principal and as registrar of Canadian Bible College before making the transition to politics. Elected to the Saskatchewan legislature in 1982 as Progressive Conservative MLA for Regina Rosemont, he served as minister of social services and minister of urban affairs in the Grant Devine government.
Following his defeat in the 1986 general election, Dirks rejoined Canadian Bible College/Canadian Theological Seminary as vice-president. In 1990, he moved to Edmonton to become an assistant deputy minister with Alberta Family and Social Services. After three years in that position, he was appointed executive pastor of Beulah Alliance Church.
In 1996, Dirks relocated to Calgary to assume the presidency of Rocky Mountain College. He later served as a vice-president of Ambrose University College and, most recently, as executive pastor of Centre Street Church.
Dirks was first elected to the Calgary Board of Education in a 1999 byelection necessitated by the dissolution of the previous board. Re-elected in 2001, 2004 and 2007, he served four times as board chair. A farewell tribute prepared by the board credits him with playing “a significant role in important changes to public education in Calgary including more program choice for students, year-over-year increases in student achievement and the construction of many new schools.”
He holds a bachelor of education degree from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as a postgraduate diploma in educational administration and a master of education degree from the University of Regina. He has also pursued doctoral studies at the Canadian Bible College/Canadian Theological Seminary. ❚