News Release

REF NO.: 38

SUBJECT: Memorial University hosts conference of Canadian university vice-presidents (academic)

DATE: October 15, 2010

Memorial University wrapped up a successful meeting of vice-presidents (academic) from more than 60 Canadian universities on its St. John’s campus today.


The 2010 National Vice-President’s Academic Council (NATVAC) conference took place Oct. 13-15.


For Dr. Reeta Tremblay, Memorial’s outgoing vice-president (academic) pro tempore, said it was a satisfying but bittersweet academic exercise. As her last official engagement at Memorial before taking on her new role as vice-president (academic) at the University of Victoria, the NATVAC conference allowed Dr. Tremblay and her contemporaries to share much insight and expertise during their time in Newfoundland and Labrador.


“This is a once-a-year meeting of those people who manage the universities other than presidents and a place to talk about the pressing issues, start the networking and get the dialogue going,” said Dr. Tremblay. “Universities compete with each other, but at the same time you can find a common agenda and bring the best of Canadian universities, minds and energy together.”

While topics of discussion ranged from administrative responsibilities to quality programming for both faculty and students, there was a hot button issue


highlighted by several delegates: creating an aboriginal inclusive institutional culture.


Dr. Scott Grills, vice-president (academic and research) at Brandon University, said engaging the aboriginal population at both the student and faculty level is something that’s been built into their institutional strategy for two decades.


“At Brandon, we are 15 per cent self-declared aboriginal students,” said Dr. Grills. “That is one of the largest proportions of aboriginal students in Canada, so this morning’s session on aboriginal initiatives at larger institutions is useful because it in part confirms some of the things that we’ve been doing for 20 years that other universities are just starting to do now.”


Dr. Brett Fairbairn, vice-president (academic) at the University of Saskatchewan and a presenter on the topic, said his attendance at the conference has provided him with practical solutions to the challenge. 


“One thing really new to me is something being done by the University of Alberta, and they’re just 4.5 hours down the road from us,” said Dr. Fairbairn. “They’ve established a policy of centrally funding any hiring of aboriginal people as faculty members in their university. So I’m going to go back and think about that. We all have the same goal to have more aboriginal faculty and we’re all looking for devices to make that happen.”


Further to the topic, Dr. Fairbairn said delegates discussed aboriginal engagement, partnerships with aboriginal communities, success of students, research – strategizing on everything from academic missions to federal politics and from questions of resources to planning.


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