UVic's new and returning deans

- Lindsay Gagel

During the school year, senior academic and research leaders from across campus gather together every two weeks to share important information and provide advice on matters related to UVic’s academic mission. They guide strategic decisions, recommend policies and procedures, and help shape the future of academics at UVic.

Chaired by Vice-President Academic and Provost Valerie Kuehne, Deans’ Council is a forum of 24 senior academic and research leaders. Among them are deans and unit heads from UVic’s 10 faculties and divisions, and the libraries, who are responsible for leading their units, their unit’s academic programs, and the associated teaching and research.

Similar to other universities in Canada, a UVic dean is appointed for a five-year term, with the possibility of a second term of up to five years. Due to challenges associated with the pandemic, many of UVic’s searches for new deans were briefly put on hold in 2020. Candidates weren’t able to travel, search committees weren’t able to gather, and the university had to refocus efforts to support current students, faculty and staff in different ways. As such, several senior faculty members took on acting roles in order to provide continued leadership in their units, and to ensure a smooth transition once a new dean could be appointed.

“I’m extremely grateful to those faculty members who have taken on acting roles, including as acting deans, chairs and directors,” says Kuehne. “Leadership roles are challenging at the best of times, and perhaps especially so during a pandemic. The university is fortunate to have so many experienced administrators willing to serve in this regard.”

Eventually, searches moved online and resumed in late 2020, and UVic welcomed several new deans in 2021. In January, Helga Hallgrímsdóttir began her five-year term as dean of human and social development. Four new deans began their terms in July: Lois Harder as dean of social sciences, Mina Hoorfar as dean of engineering and computer science, Robin Hicks as dean of graduate studies, and Annalee Lepp as dean of humanities. Harder joined UVic from the University of Alberta and Hoorfar from UBC Okanagan. The other newly appointed deans had previous roles here at UVic.

A search is underway for a dean of fine arts, with Allana Lindgren currently in the acting role. Searches have recently begun for education and business, as Saul Klein and Ralf St. Clair will complete their terms as deans in 2022. Val Napoleon was ratified as acting dean of law for a 15-month term beginning Oct. 1, with the search for a new dean scheduled for 2022.

Other faculty leads represented on Deans’ Council are Peter Loock, dean of science, Jo-Anne Clarke, dean of continuing studies, Bruce Wright, head of medical sciences, and Jonathan Bengtson, university librarian.

Deans’ Council will also have new leadership next summer. Kuehne—an accomplished administrator with over 30 years of experience at UVic—will step down as vice-president academic and provost at the end of her term.

When asked about this academic year, Kuehne says there’s still much to do, including ongoing priorities for Deans’ Council on advancing truth, respect and reconciliation, as well as equity, diversity and inclusion more generally. Other important areas of discussion include program delivery; opportunities associated with micro-credentials; and supports for students, faculty, librarians and related staff—just to name a few.

“This is an exciting time to be a leader in post-secondary education,” says Kuehne, “with many important takeaways from the ongoing pandemic. I look forward to engaging with Deans’ Council on new strategic initiatives across the academic portfolio that will help us to achieve our collective goals.”


In this story

Keywords: administrative

People: Valerie Kuehne, Helga Hallgrímsdóttir, Lois Harder, Mina Hoorfar, Robin Hicks, Annalee Lepp, Allana Lindgren, Saul Klein, Ralf St. Clair, Val Napoleon, Peter Loock, Jo-Anne Clarke, Bruce Wright, Jonathan Bengtson

Publication: The Ring

Related stories