October 16, 2012 - 5:27pmUpdated: October 17, 2012 - 1:11pm
It's not too often the president of a school stops by your classroom -- and knows your name -- but Randell Morris had that relationship with his students.
The president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies (SIIT) passed away from an unexpected health emergency Tuesday morning, causing shock among both Saskatchewan's First Nations and post-secondary education communities.
The 47-year-old had recently celebrated his 20th anniversary at the First Nations education and training college, where he was president for nearly five years.
"He's turned into, I think, one of the great leaders in education for post-secondary and skills and trades," said Ray Ahenakew, a senior advisor for SIIT who met Morris 22 years ago and recommended him as president.
"Not only for our students, but he's also done a lot of work for the province of Saskatchewan in looking at what contributions First Nations people can make to the economy."
That sentiment was echoed by Dr. Larry Rosia, president and CEO of SIAST. In a news release, he described Morris as a "highly regarded partner and valued contributor to advancing technical education in the province."
Ahenakew said Morris' accomplishments were many -- he helped boost enrollment at the school and developed a popular Airport Maintenance Engineering program.
Success Ahenakew believes came from positive relationships with coworkers, politicians and students.
"He had that magic touch, how to deal with people," he said.
"He worked hard for our Indian people, and he's going to be greatly missed."
Classes are cancelled today at SIIT campuses across the province in memory of Morris, who leaves behind a wife and daughter.
His funeral will be held Friday, Oct. 19 at Prairieland Park with a viewing at 12:30 p.m. and a service to follow at 1:30 p.m.