About the president

Jamie Cassels, QC, is the president of the University of Victoria. His five-year term began July 1, 2013, and he has been reappointed to a second five-year term effective July 1, 2018.

An experienced academic leader

Jamie Cassels
Prof. Jamie Cassels

President Cassels was UVic's vice-president academic and provost (VPAC) from 2001-10 and before that served as dean of the Faculty of Law.

As VPAC, Prof. Cassels was responsible for the quality and development of all academic programs, long-range academic planning, enrolment management and the student experience, integrated planning across the university, and the recruitment and retention of faculty. More than 50 per cent of UVic’s current faculty members were hired during his term. He served for two terms in this position, receiving a 95 per cent approval in a faculty ratification ballot for his second term.

Awards and expertise

Jamie Cassels at Law Library
The UVic Law Library

President Cassels is a recipient of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship—Canada's highest award for university teaching. He is also a two-time winner of UVic Law's master teacher award; recipient of the UVic Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award; and winner of the Canadian Association of Law Teachers Award for his exceptional contributions to research and law teaching. On his return to the faculty after 10 years as provost, Cassels received the First Year Teaching Award for 2012-13.

Prof. Cassels' areas of research expertise include remedies, legal theory, contracts, and torts. Other interests include environmental issues, law and society in India, and race and gender issues in the law of tort.

Among Prof. Cassels' publications are: The Uncertain Promise of Law: Lessons from Bhopal (1993) about the environmental and human cost of the devastating 1984 explosion at a Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India, and its aftermath; and Remedies: The Law of Damages (2000; second edition with Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey, 2008). These works and his numerous academic articles are widely cited in both the academic literature and courts across the country.

An advocate of research-enriched learning

While VPAC, Prof. Cassels was a strong advocate of research-enriched learning. He supported faculties and departments in ensuring that all students were exposed to the research culture of the university and oversaw a major expansion of research-focused graduate programs.

Prof. Cassels established a research awards program for UVic students that provides support for exceptional third- and fourth-year undergraduate students to obtain direct research experience. In 2010, in recognition of his commitment to the integration of teaching and research, UVic named this program the Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Awards. In 2012-13 it supported nearly 100 students.

A rich history at UVic

Prof. Cassels joined the University of Victoria Faculty of Law in 1981 and as a professor made major contributions as a teacher, scholar and in service across the university. He also served as associate dean and dean of the law school. While he was dean, UVic Law was ranked as one of Canada’s best by recent law graduates.

As dean, Prof. Cassels launched the ground-breaking Akitsiraq Law Program delivering legal education to Inuit students in Canada’s far north and incorporating both western and Inuit legal concepts and traditions. As VPAC, he was a champion for Indigenous education and the development of new programs that led to a dramatic increase in the number of First Nations students attending and graduating from UVic.

A deep personal commitment to students and the power of education

Jamie Cassels at the United Way
President's United Way
walk

Prof. Cassels' commitment to post-secondary education, support for students, and active community engagement goes well beyond his role and responsibilities as president to his deeply held personal values. In 2014, he asked the UVic Board of Governors to adjust his five-year contract with the university to reduce his compensation over the life of his contract and use the savings to support UVic priorities.

As a result, $330,000 has been directed in equal amounts to student scholarships; UVic's new Centre for Athletics, Recreation and Special Abilities; and general operating purposes. To inspire further philanthropic support for students from UVic donors and supporters, he and his family also made an additional substantial donation to the scholarship fund.

President Cassels' commitment to give back extends to the community as well. In April 2016, he was honoured with the Chair's Award of Distinction by the United Way of Greater Victoria, its most prestigious award, in recognition of his longstanding commitment to the United Way.

A career marked by service

President Cassels is a member of the Bar of British Columbia and has practised law and acted as a consultant to governments at all levels on issues of public significance.

He was a founding member of the BC Law Institute, and has been active in many professional and community organizations including the Continuing Legal Education Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada, and the United Way. Prof. Cassels was appointed Queen's Counsel in 2004 for his scholarly and service contributions to the legal profession.

He holds a BA in law and philosophy from Carleton University, an LL.B (bachelor of law) from the University of Western Ontario and an LL.M (master of law) from Columbia University.

He is married to Erin Shaw, a lawyer specializing in access to justice and law reform. They have three children. Cassels is an avid outdoorsman and boater.


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