University of Lethbridge welcomes incoming president to campus

Digvir Jayas sits amongst staff, students, faculty, and others who attended his welcoming event on Jan. 7, 2023 at the Science Commons Atrium. Eloise Therien / Global News

It was a full house at the University of Lethbridge as Digvir Jayas and his wife Manju made their first official visit to tour the campus on Tuesday morning.

On Jan. 19, 2023, the institution announced Jayas would be assuming the role of president and vice-chancellor on July 1. He is set to replace Mike Mahon in the role, who has been at the helm since 2010.

An accomplished agriculture researcher, Jayas has spent the last 12 years with the University of Manitoba as vice-president of research and international.

He was chosen for the role at the U of L by a selection committee chaired by Dean Gallimore.

“Certainly I feel that other members of the search committee would agree that Dr. Jayas has a number of important attributes,” Gallimore said.

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“The research that he’s done in the past directly ties to southern Alberta. I mean his area of research was in agriculture — he’s an agricultural engineer — so there’s a great fit there.”

Jayas was welcomed by staff, students and faculty in the Science Commons Atrium, and commended the “beautiful facility.”

“I have not been to all of the buildings yet, but the programs which are offered by the University of Lethbridge are superb and they are supported with the very high-quality infrastructure,” Jayas said.

He also expressed interest in exploring more connections with agriculture businesses in the area and with Lethbridge College.

Click to play video: 'Classes resume at Lethbridge post-secondary schools'
Classes resume at Lethbridge post-secondary schools

“I certainly would like to explore a partnership with them,” he said.

When asked about some recent difficulties at the U of L, including last winter’s work stoppage, Jayas said he believed the board managed the issue as well as it could.

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He also said he supports freedom of speech, a major topic after controversial speaker Frances Widdowson was on campus last week.

“But at the same time, it has to be done in a way that it does not harm the people, so we have to weigh the harm and the free speech,” he explained.

“Anybody can have opinions, but to me there are only one set of facts.”

Jayas is expected to visit the U of L’s Calgary campus later this week.

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