'The timing was right': Vianne Timmons leaving U of R to go back to her roots

Vianne Timmons, the University of Regina's first female president, is leaving to be the president at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

Vianne Timmons is leaving for Memorial University in Newfoundland

Vianne Timmons is the new president of MUN. (Memorial University/Twitter)

The University of Regina's first female president says the decision to leave was "tough."

"It's a healthy institution that has so much more potential and so the timing was right," Vianne Timmons said. 

Timmons announced last week that she will be leaving the University of Regina as of April 1, 2020. She was the president and vice-chancellor at the university since 2008. 

She is leaving to become the president at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador. It will be a homecoming for Timmons, who grew up in the area. 

"To be quite honest, my mother is 86 and she lives in the Maritimes by herself," Timmons said. "That really has a big impact on my decision and going back to my roots is exciting." 

I never imagined — when I stepped onto that campus that first year — how Regina would welcome meet me and my family.- Vianne Timmons


The U of R is in good shape now, Timmons said. When she first arrived, she was focused on enrolment. Now the university has around 16,000 students. This is mainly due to focusing on international students and making the campus inclusive, she said. 

"I think [diversity] makes for a better campus," she said.

Concerns from 2013 finances and transparency was 'a tough period'

Timmons' time at the University of Regina was not without controversy. In 2013, there were concerns about finances and transparency. Timmons survived a non-confidence vote by a single ballot. 

"That was a tough period," Timmons said. "It had gotten quite nasty."

Timmons said it was a lesson to try and work with the rifts that were created during this time. 

"I didn't see it then but I think, when I reflect back, that it made me a better president."

Vianne Timmons is expected to take her new roles as President and Vice-Chancellor of Memorial University on March 31. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

The university made efforts to improve transparency, she said.

Tuition has been gradually rising under Timmons, but it's still in the bottom third of English universities, she said. 

"Accessibility is still a real value we hold dear. And we watch that very carefully," Timmons said. 

She said she came from a humble background and knows the hardship student debt can cause.

"So I do a lot of empathy and I understand the challenges."

Timmons said tuition is an investment and the university is continuing to invest in scholarships. 

The city of Regina will stay with her, she said. 

"I never imagined — when I stepped onto that campus that first year — how Regina would welcome meet me and my family," Timmons said. 

"I've been so fortunate and I've learned so much and I hope I've left a little bit behind."


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