Five questions with Kevin Hall, UVic’s new president and vice-chancellor

Photo of President Kevin Hall
Courtesy of UVic Photo Services

The University of Victoria’s eighth president, Dr. Kevin Hall, kindly participated in a Q&A so UVic alumni can get to know him better. 

You’ve had a focus on putting research into practice by delivering knowledge to industry and community. What ways might you share knowledge with UVic alumni and the Greater Victoria community?

It’s important for a university to show the impact it has on a community—that impact may be driving social change, creating a better environment or helping kick-start the economy post-COVID. To do this we have to be good communicators and really good, respectful partners. Respect is key to having true, meaningful exchanges of ideas and knowledge with partners.

In the spirit of innovation and discovery, what is something you discovered about yourself, or something new you tried/learned during the pandemic?

In my previous two roles I travelled extensively, often being away for long periods of time. The pandemic has allowed me to rediscover some of the things I valued years ago. I love music, both as a listener of a diverse array of music, but also as someone who loves to play a number of instruments and I’ve used this ‘quiet’ time to enjoy this former part of my life.

So, what did I discover? I’ve discovered that I don’t have to be constantly in motion to enjoy certain things in life—quiet times are okay and should be appreciated.

What do you do in your free time, and what are you looking forward to about Victoria?

I really enjoy exploring cities, landscapes, and nature so I spend much of my spare time walking and hiking. It’s a great way to explore a city and experience the natural beauty of the region. And it’s a great way to discover new restaurants, shopping areas and beautiful views. Victoria is perfect city for getting around on foot and I am looking forward to discovering what makes this city and region tick.

Having just moved from Australia, I am also looking forward to the Victoria winter. This might sound weird, but I am originally from Ontario!

What are your favourite ways to connect with alumni from the universities you’ve served?

Connecting with alumni has always been important to me as an academic, as a department chair and in senior leadership positions. Alumni events, real and virtual, individual meetings, awards ceremonies are all great ways to meet lots of alumni quickly. I always enjoying meeting alumni in the cities where they now reside.

I truly believe we really need to engage and empower our alumni to remain involved with their university over their lifetime—whether mentoring a student start-up, teaching an occasional class, sitting on a faculty advisory board, hosting students in their business, or acting as an ambassador for the university—there are so many ways to contribute.

What is one of the most important qualities in a university leader?

I think university leaders have to be genuine. They need to be open and honest and be great communicators. It is really important to connect with all aspects of the university community including students, staff, faculty and alumni—such a diverse community requires communication of different types.

University leaders should also inspire and empower the university community. We continually need to ask “What should your UVic look like?”

Finally, I would say that given today’s uncertain funding environment, uncertainty in a post-COVID world and increasing global competition, leaders have to be agile and adaptable. We need to have the ability to be innovative and develop solutions that make a university a place where staff and faculty want to work, where students want to study and where the community comes for trusted solutions to pressing issues.