VIU Campus

President and Vice-Chancellor’s Goals

Vancouver Island University is making important changes in our community and beyond. As the new President and Vice-Chancellor, I will support VIU’s work to strengthen its regional, national, and international reputation as a leader in progressive, accessible, and innovative education. In my first year, that work will require learning the institution, focusing on our mandate, investing in relationships, and promoting Indigeneity.

Learning the institution

Initially, much of my daily activity will be focused on operational/transactional pieces that will allow me to learn about the institution and its unique culture. As the year progresses, I will focus more on strategic aspects. I anticipate that many of these goals are multi-year and/or will be ongoing activities, and that new opportunities will emerge over the year.

  • I will meet our key internal and external stakeholders to hear the stories of VIU’s success, and to ask how we can do better. I commit to listening – the first step in building relationships – so that I can better represent VIU at home and abroad.
  • I will review relevant BC legislation and associated policy, and identify and address compliance issues (if any).
  • I will ensure that our bicameral bodies are informed of national and provincial trends, including potential changes to legislative and regulative environments and their impacts. I commit to uphold the current high standard of collegial bicameral governance.
  • I will review the portfolios of my direct reports, ensuring that there are clear descriptions of responsibilities and associated accountabilities.
  • I will also begin a review of the budget and our current budget model(s). This assessment will not only help us to understand our financial commitments, but will also allow us to determine how we can fund new priorities in an environment of fiscal restraint.
  • I will work to develop and maintain positive relationships with employee and student groups and their representatives through regular meetings, clear communication, and commitment to the success of our learners.
  • Working within the Dimensions: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Canada pilot, I will launch a self-assessment of VIU’s diversity and equity in both its work and learning environments. The Dimensions pilot –  primarily focused on research, creative practice, and scholarly activity – asks institutions to identify and determine ways to remediate barriers to inclusion for five federally designated groups.  This work will form a key support for the implementation of the VIU People Plan.

Delivering on the mandate of VIU

VIU’s mandate is to engage students and promote their success through learning. Part of that learning happens with and within our local communities: when VIU employees and students engage with community members on issues such as poverty, employment, or climate change, we demonstrate the value of community-based research, scholarly work, and creative practice in solving shared problems. These experiential social innovation initiatives underline our essential role as a regional university and VIU’s niche in the education ecosystem in Canada. That these discoveries occur in an environment of high-quality teaching is also essential for innovative university education. 

To deliver on that mandate and build on VIU’s strengths, I will review our current suite of strategies and programming to identify priorities for next steps.

  • I will begin the process of developing an institutional-level strategic plan (ISP). Although we have many unit level (or pan-unit level) strategic plans, we do not have an ISP that knits these plans together. An ISP will focus us on initiatives that reinforce our values and deepen our connections with the communities that we serve.
  • Working with our community, I will assess our current programming (and potential new programming) for gaps in our offerings and where we can do more or better to deliver on our mandate. I commit to continuing to develop new certificates, diplomas and degrees (both graduate and undergraduate), trade programming, and adult basic education programming.
  • I will work with the Provost to ensure continued robust accreditation processes and program review(s) to ensure that our credentials remain legitimate and valued signifiers of the learning that has taken place and safeguard our reputation as a provider of high-quality education.
  • I will engage our community in thoughtful conversation about how to promote discovery-based contributions to knowledge across our undergraduate, trades, and adult basic education learning environments.
  • I will work with our team to examine how we provide additional support(s) for our graduate students through our learning commons, through support for our faculty mentors, and through practices that foster common experiences for our students. 
  • I will also work with others in the team to develop strategies for achieving greater recognition of our creative practice, scholarly work, and research activity, and celebrating and promoting these achievements.
  • I will work with our community to determine how we involve our students and community in research, scholarly work, and creative practice that is at the heart of experiential learning. We know that our students both want and need these kinds of learning opportunities.  
  • I will also work with our communities to develop co-op and/or experiential learning opportunities that will provide our students with competitive advantages in the workplace.
  • I will support continuing progress on a number of infrastructure projects, notably Project AURORA and Borealis. We will also take advantage of emerging opportunities and we will develop proposals for other infrastructure projects to meet our needs.

Building relationships and diversifying resources

Much of the work of my first year will be to build relationships, internally and externally. These relationships will allow me to build on VIU’s many successes and take us in new directions as we realize our special place in the ecosystem of Canadian universities. It is my hope that we will see a new national dialogue emerge regarding the role of regional universities in driving social innovation, influencing change and amplifying the impact that we are having on the communities we serve and beyond.

  • I will focus much of my work in my first few months on the development of relationships with friends of VIU, foundations, and key members of the municipal, provincial and federal governments. In Canada, a non-exhaustive list includes members of the VIU community (students, student groups, faculty and staff and their associations), friends of VIU (donors, thought leaders, foundation representatives), local counselors, MLAs and MPs, Deputy Ministers and Ministers (both federal and provincial), and with the Chiefs and key members of the bands that we serve as well as with indigenous elders and thought leaders.
  • I will also work to ensure that we have robust and meaningful relationships with our international partners and that we continue to diversify and broaden our scope in this realm.
  • I will work to develop clear fund-raising priorities for both domestic and international initiatives (e.g. desperately needed capital investments and enhancements to our scholarships, awards and bursaries). This focused approach will allow us to tell VIU’s story at home and abroad, engage our stakeholders, and build the potential of the Trust and the Foundation.  
  • I will work to promote VIU provincially, nationally, and internationally through my participation in initiatives that are aligned with our vision, mission and values. This outreach may include the provision of keynote lectures, participation on panels, and/or leadership in pan-institutional initiatives.
  • Working with other institutions, I will continue the conversation on the unique role that regional universities play in the development of their communities.
  • I will continue to celebrate the work of volunteers in the functioning of many programs that are at the heart of VIU (e.g. Elder College, Milner Gardens, etc.) and those that are the heart of the governance of our activities (e.g. Foundation Board). I will also be active in the recruitment of these volunteers.

Promoting Indigeneity

VIU has a special responsibility to meet the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and to work to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons (UNDRIP). These efforts include initiatives in the classroom, changes in our work practices, and new thinking in our research, creative practice and scholarly work. By taking these responsibilities seriously, VIU will not only demonstrate a sincere commitment to reconciliation but will lead the promotion of access for First Nations, Metis and Inuit (FNMI) peoples. Increasing access to education for FNMI and other students who typically do not access post-secondary education will result in a resilient community of highly skilled individuals and place VIU at the forefront of inclusive institutions.

  • I will continue to promote VIU’s programming among FNMI and other indigenous learners and will advocate among the nations for opportunities to serve their learners.
  • I will engage with nations across Vancouver Island and the coastal communities to hear their feedback about VIU’s success in meeting the needs of their citizens and where and how we can work to break down barriers.
  • I will support reconciliation initiatives that meet the calls to action of the TRC, including the incorporation of indigenous knowledge into our curricula.
  • I will support initiatives that allow VIU to implement the UNDRIP.
  • I will advocate for VIU and our learners with the provincial and federal governments--celebrating our successes in engaging indigenous learners, and identifying where we could go further, and how we could ensure the long-term sustainability of these programs. I will collaborate with the province to develop pathways and/or delivery mechanisms that promote access to programming for Nations with limited access to PSE.
  • I will also advocate for funding for indigenous learners with foundations, donors, and industry partners.
  • I will work to attract and retain indigenous staff and faculty. This strategy may include the identification of institutional barriers that deter participation and/or the formalization of agreements with nations that promote VIU as a preferred employer.
  • I will work to development agreements with our business and industry partners that promote transition to work for our indigenous graduates.

Approved by the Board, September 26, 2019