author: taylor balfour | news writer
Incumbent U of R president is excited for new term
Vianne Timmons is now starting her third term, or ninth year, here as the president of the University of Regina. During her time here, she had reflected on what has made the U of R as amazing as it is, and is striving to make the campus better and better every day.
“I think we’ve seen a lot of change from the University of Regina,” Timmons claims. “The most notable one is our enrollment. We have [had a] pretty significant enrollment increase sitting this year at 15 thousand students. When I came, we were experiencing a decrease in enrollment and we’ve been able to turn that around.”
However, there is more to be excited about than just enrollment. Timmons says that one of the greatest improvements regarding the campus over her time here has been the growing diversity.
“I really want the campus to reflect the world that could be,” she explains.
“We have students now from 120 different countries studying at our university. We have a 122 per cent increase in international students since 2009, so that’s really positive.”
Not only have the numbers increased, but the university has also been aiming to help accommodate and support the strengthening of the diverse community.
“We’ve put foot baths in the bathrooms, we set up a prayer room for our 800 Muslim students, we have relocated the Aboriginal Student Centre to prime real estate,” Timmons continues, “so not only have we increased the student diversity, but I think we’ve also made sure we’ve made changes to support them.”
“I’m really proud of some of our programming that we’ve done,” Timmons continues. “The UR Guarantee programming and the Campus For All investment for young men and women with intellectual disabilities, I think that’s a fabulous program.”
In fact, not only has the program been great in it’s values, but it has also been extremely successful.
“We’ve invested in student services to support students with disabilities and we’re now over 700 students who, in some way, have a disability on campus that we support. So lots of diversity, which is exciting, and we’ve done things to honour that.”
While numbers are of course great, the real reason that Timmons feels successful is due to the relationship she has with the campus and the city.
“I love the city of Regina. The people have been so kind and generous to me and to the University of Regina, and I believe that we are a university of the community,” Timmons explains.
“What I love about the University of Regina is that it’s big enough so that you can do interesting things, but it’s small enough you can wrap your arms around it. I never walk through the halls and not see someone I know and we’re able to stop and chat and talk, whether it’s a student or a staff member or a faculty member or even a community member.”
However, Timmons is also amazed by the strength the student body has.
“The other thing I am fascinated by about our university is that we punch way above our weight,” Timmons states.
“The JDC West competition this year, our business students came first in Western Canada against UBC and University of Alberta, like big, huge universities and our students came first and I see that over and over again. I still feel at this time, there’s lots to do.”
Of course, Timmons has a plan for this upcoming five-year term and she’s thrilled to get to work.
“Our strategic plan we’ve got to implement and that’s a big job,” she says.
“We have the three pillars: student success, research impact, and community outreach, so I have a path that I have to follow and that makes it really exciting for me. Another area is in Truth and Reconciliation; we’ve got to do a lot of work around that. We have the potential to really influence our own community on that.”
While Timmons is ready to focus on bigger projects, she also knows what the biggest role for campus is right now.
“The biggest thing right now, today, is that I think I have to really ensure that we have some stability on campus. With the government, the challenges this province is facing it’ll be more important than ever that the campus is a beacon of stability.”
“I’m really excited about congress,” Timmons continues. “We’re hosting congress in 2018. It will be the largest conference ever held in the City of Regina, so we’re going to have between 7,000 and 8,000 visitors to our campus. We’re really excited about making sure that it is a congress that everybody leaves thinking ‘Wow, this was amazing.’”
But there’s even more fun on the way in 2018 for the campus other than congress.
“We’re hosting the CIS National Women’s Basketball Championship in 2018. I’m really excited about that.”
When asked if she had a message for students, she began with a thanks.
“I am so honoured that the 15,000 students we have here chose the University of Regina to pursue their degrees. They had a lot of choice and they decided to come here. That’s exciting to me,” she says.
“You are our future leaders and you need to get engaged in today so that you can influence tomorrow.”
“And also I need to say,” she continues, “students, stop me in the hallway! Talk to me, let me know how you’re doing. That’s really important to me. I am your president and I serve at your pleasure.”
Despite all of these plans, when asked what Timmons was more excited about for the future, she knew exactly how to respond.
“You know, I’m excited about everyday that I get up to go to work because every single day is different. So you know, for me, I would say I could be excited about something a year from now or two years from now or three years but the thing that is the most interesting about my job is that I wake up excited everyday.”