It’s the kind of news that will warm the heart of any arts supporter: famed CBC Radio host Shelagh Rogers has been named the University of Victoria’s 11th chancellor.
The news was announced to a packed room in UVic’s Mearns Centre for Learning on May 29, as a beaming Rogers took to the stage and said, “To speak in a very non-chancellorian way, I’m thrilled out of my bean.” The genuine laughter and applause with which this statement was greeted was a strong indication of the popularity of the announcement. “I feel like over the last little while I’ve been dating UVic,” Rogers qiupped. “I’m glad now to be in a relationship with you.”
Click here to listen to her interview on CBC Radio’s All Points West with 2013 Southam professor Jo-Ann Roberts.
A longtime associate of the Department of Writing and friend to the Faculty of Fine Arts, Rogers will assume the office for a three-year term beginning January 1, 2015. As the titular head of UVic, the chancellor is the chair of convocation, confers all degrees and is a member of the university’s board of governors, as well as the senate (which governs the university’s academic affairs). The position carries no remuneration.
“As UVic’s chancellor, Shelagh Rogers will enhance the excellence of our university. She will bring tremendous energy and great insight to her new role. Her national reputation as an advocate for Canadian arts and culture will serve the university well,” write nominators Dr. Sarah Blackstone, Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts, and Dr. Lynne Van Luven, Associate Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts. “Shelagh has a deep commitment to higher education and to the Aboriginal reconciliation process. She has the ability to ask the right questions and to tell the whole story so that others can understand complex and urgent issues and ideas. UVic could not ask for a better ambassador as we build on our reputation for excellence in teaching, research, and community engagement.”
Speaking at the event, UVic President Jamie Cassels noted that Rogers “exemplifies the values that characterize our university. She is deeply connected with communities across Canada; her cultural contributions and ability to reach into people’s everyday lives as a well-known broadcaster and as an advocate for public awareness on important societal issues will make her an outstanding ambassador for the university. On campus, her trademark warmth, compassion and enthusiasm will help inspire our students and connect with them on a very authentic level.”
A veteran broadcast journalist, Rogers is currently the host and a producer of The Next Chapter, a CBC Radio program about Canadian writers and songwriters. She moved to BC in 2003 after 23 years working on CBC news and current affairs radio programs. In 2011, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contributions as a promoter of Canadian culture, and for her volunteer work in the fields of mental health and literacy. She has committed herself to working toward reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people from coast to coast to coast, and was inducted as an Honorary Witness for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in June 2011. As Shelley Ambrose, co-publisher of The Walrus Magazine, has said, “Think of her as Canada’s ear. Then add a brain, a heart . . . and a very recognizable voice. That’s Shelagh Rogers.”
No stranger to UVic events, Rogers recently hosted the Department of Writing scholarship fundraiser A Literary Celebration of Lorna Crozier in November 2103, as well as the Harvey S. Southam Lecture by Richard Wagamese in February 2011. Better still, it turns out that Writing professor Lynne Van Luven was the person who first thought of nominating Rogers.
“I remembered all the great interviews I had had with her over the years, how she always gets right to the heart of a book, and responds so warmly and honestly to her subject, whoever they are,” says Van Luven. “Then I remembered what a great time we had when she hosted the Lorna Crozier Scholarship fundraiser. She seemed to be just the best person I could think of because of her wide range of interests, her great interviewing and communication skills and her obvious curiosity about the world around her. I thought, ‘If I were convocating, I’d like someone like Shelagh presiding at the ceremonies.’”
While Rogers will be UVic’s second female chancellor, she is the first from the world of the arts. We congratulate her, and look forward with to her tenure great anticipation.