What’s next without Vianne?

A beautiful campus, except for when it isn't /John Loeppky

The process of what happens now

As outgoing University of Regina president Vianne Timmons gears up for her new job at Memorial University, the University of Regina community will be embarking on our own adventure – finding a new president to replace her. The process promises to be long and painstaking , but there will be chances to provide input along the way, which will hopefully increase our chances of finding a president who reflects the needs and hopes of our faculty, staff, and student body.

“University presidential searches typically take at least a year to complete,” explained the Executive Director of University Governance and University Secretary Glenys Sylvestre. “The Board of Governors is hoping to appoint our eighth president on or near July 2021, but of course this timing is very tentative and dependent on the search process and availability of the selected individual.”

The board is currently engaging in their preliminary discussions about the search process, and a search advisory committee that includes students, staff, faculty and board members will be formed some time in the next few weeks. This committee’s goal will be to attract and evaluate candidates, and give the Board of Governors their recommendations.

“One of the [other] early steps in the process will be to undertake broad consultation and input regarding the desired qualifications for the future president of the University of Regina,” said Sylvestre. “[And] as with all senior searches at the University of Regina, there will be ongoing communication to the community about the process as it unfolds, with regular updates provided on a dedicated website.”

In the meantime, current University of Regina provost Thomas Chase will serve as the interim president, and Faculty of Nursing Dean david Gregory will be the acting provost.

Chase is one of many key participants in this transition process who has placed a value on a successor who will lead the university down the same path it is currently on, rather than taking things in any sort of radical new direction.

“I hope that the next president comes prepared to build on the remarkable momentum and focus demonstrated by President Timmons during her time in Regina,” he said. “I hope, too, that the new president will be marked by openness, tremendous energy, and a commitment to wellness, the ability to articulate not only the university’s needs but its many contributions to the common good through teaching, research, creation, community service and – if they come from outside Saskatchewan – a willingness to get to know the people of this campus, city, and province quickly, and come to be truly one of us.”

Timmons herself noted that the transition period is being led by senior members of the university faculty and administration, which she hopes will help avoid any potential rough patches.

“I’m working with my senior team and Dr. Chase, just trying to make sure that everything goes smoothly and there’s consistency in how we are working together,” she said. “Because he’s been a long-serving provost, I think the transition will be very smooth.”

Timmons also expressed hopes that her permanent successor will remain committed to certain core values.

“I hope we get a president that is committed to Indigenization,” she said. “I think that is one of the most important things, along with equity and diversity and inclusion. I think that’s the path the campus has been on, and it’s the path I hope it will continue to move in.”

Chase, who along with Timmons survived a narrow no-confidence vote in 2013, is eager to step into this interim role.

“Over the past 45 years I have been a student, a sessional, a faculty member and an administrator at [the] U of R,” he said. “From that experience, I know this is a great university in which to learn, discover, create, mentor, contribute, and come to appreciate people from around the world. One of my goals as interim president is to work closely with all groups in the university community to nurture that climate, and ensure the institution remains strong.”

As someone who did not come from Saskatchewan and is now leaving in part to be closer to family and home, Timmons is aware of the particular hurdles that will face a new president if they also come from outside the province.

“There’s always challenges as a new president – if they’re from the outside – to get to know the campus, the culture and the community,” she said. “It’s a unique community, a unique campus, and you need to take the time to listen and learn. I hope the new president does that.”

Timmons made her resignation effective April 1, 2020, so she will almost wrap up the spring semester with the student body (though she will be leaving just before the start of the exam period, which I’m sure many students will be quite envious of).

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