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Grenfell Connects

Message from the president: Memorial University welcomes Dr. Vianne Timmons, OC

I am honoured and excited to join Memorial University as president and vice-chancellor, and I am looking forward to meeting as many members of the university community as possible in the very near future. Covid 19 and me
The COVID-19 pandemic – to which the Memorial community has responded with such dedication and creativity – will delay those meetings for a while, however.

I had hoped to be officially on-site for the start of my tenure as president, but when I learned on March 20 that the provincial government required people to self-isolate after inter-provincial travel, I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

I needed to arrive in St. John’s as quickly as possible, so I flew here a week before my original travel date to begin self-isolation right away.

Two of my daughters – Kelly and Taylor – arrived a few days later. We’re currently self-isolating (on separate floors of our accommodation!), and I will be able to venture out to campus a few days after my April 1 start date.

In the meantime, my husband Stuart is finishing packing in Regina, and he and our two dogs will arrive here later in April, at which time we’ll begin the process of fully moving into our house – once his period of self-isolation ends.

Since arriving

Since my arrival here, I have been working remotely for two universities, which has been an interesting experience, to say the least.

I have been completing a number of things as president of the University of Regina, while at the same time preparing to take over as Memorial’s president.

Life will be a bit simpler when I am at last in my office at Memorial’s St. John’s campus, with only one email address to monitor!

Since December I have remained in close contact with Memorial’s leaders, the presidential transition team and the staff in the Office of the President, learning as much as I can about the university and getting briefed appropriately so I can get to work as quickly as possible.

In those briefings, I have heard a great deal about the tremendous job everyone at Memorial has done to plan and implement measures for dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am particularly grateful to the Emergency Operations Centre group and the many Memorial people who are keeping the university’s critical functions running.

I also want to thank the faculty and support staff who have worked intensively to prepare course content for remote delivery.

That extraordinary commitment to preserving the semester for our students in this unsettling time speaks highly of the calibre of Newfoundland and Labrador’s university system.

Just as importantly, I want to express my appreciation to our students who are being so patient and understanding while all of this work is being undertaken. I know this has not been an easy time for you.

My plan

While I am no stranger to this province, having been raised in Labrador, I have not lived here for many years.

My plan is to get reacquainted with the province and to get acquainted with Memorial University itself as quickly as possible when the COVID-19 situation improves and I am able to meet people face-to-face.

As I noted when my appointment was announced in December, I want to take time to learn from the people who make up the Memorial community and the wider community of Newfoundland and Labrador.

I want to hear your perspectives and learn about your vision for Memorial and for this province.

In the meantime, I do come with some priorities in mind, specifically:

  • Strategic planning to continue to deliver on the university’s frameworks for teaching and learning, research and public engagement;
  • The promotion of equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Strengthening communities and relationships, particularly among the multiple campuses;
  • Continuing the Indigenization work already underway;
  • The continued promotion and growth of Memorial’s research capacity; and,
  • The development of leaders throughout the organization.

My commitment

We will build on this list together with each conversation, balancing the need to respect tradition with the need to innovate and look to the future.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this incredible institution, and I commit to bringing my 12 years of experience as president of the University of Regina – with my passion for community building in all its forms – to this place.

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