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University of Regina’s 7th president resigns to pursue new opportunity

University of Regina president Vianne Timmons discusses Saskatchewan's 2018 budget at the Legislative Building in Regina, Tuesday, April 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor.
University of Regina president Vianne Timmons discusses Saskatchewan's 2018 budget at the Legislative Building in Regina, Tuesday, April 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor. Mark Taylor / Canadian Press

The president and vice-chancellor of the University of Regina, Vianne Timmons, is resigning to pursue new opportunities.

The announcement was made Thursday by the university’s board of governors.

“There’s something very special about this city and this university, and that will stay with me forever,” Timmons said in an interview on Monday. “I was able to say for years that I was the luckiest university president in Canada because of this city and this campus.”

Timmons is moving on to become the president and vice-chancellor of Memorial University of Newfoundland, which makes her the first female to assume the role in that province. Timmons also made history as Saskatchewan’s first female university president, something she said signifies Canada’s need to work toward gender equality.

“I’d rather not be the first. I’d like to be the third or the fourth or the fifth,” Timmons said. “We need to make sure women have opportunities everywhere as equal as men. We need to make sure we attack all those firsts and there are still quite a few universities in Canada who’ve never had a woman president.”

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Timmons is originally from Newfoundland. She said she’s moving back to be closer to family, including her 86-year-old mother and her granddaughter.

“Anyone who’s been to Newfoundland and Labrador knows the rich culture and music and energy of the people there and I’m excited about getting reacquainted with the place that I grew up,” Timmons said.

Board chair Roger Brandvold said Timmons has played a leading role in the university’s growth during her tenure.

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“(Vianne) Timmons leaves the institution in a strong position,” Brandvold said. “In addition to growing enrollments, the university has made many investments during her time here to better support our students, grow our research enterprise, connect with our local and provincial communities, and enhance our physical campus while maintaining a balanced budget.”

Timmons, who lead the university for 11 years, said tackling the school’s enrollment was both her biggest challenge and her biggest accomplishment.

In the months leading up to her start in 2008, school enrollment dropped 15 per cent. But, Timmons said it’s now at a record-breaking 16,600 students.

“Through a lot of hard work, through a lot of strategy, a lot of analysis of data, we were able to every year grow the campus incrementally,” Timmons said. “When you move things slowly upward, one day you wake up and see how much you’ve accomplished.”

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Timmons thanked the community for its support.

“The University of Regina, our city, and our province welcomed me and my family so warmly when we arrived in 2008, and my love for and commitment to this province have only grown since that time,” she said.

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She will remain in her role as president at the U of R until April.

The board of governors has named provost and vice-president of academic, Thomas Chase, as interim president effective April 1.

His involvement with the university dates back more than four decades, and he has served as provost since 2011. He has overseen the academic operations and budgets of the university and has guided academic policy.

The board said it will launch a comprehensive search for the University of Regina’s eight president in the new year.