UVic President Jamie Cassels announces resignation effective June 2020

Campus Local News

Search for Cassels’ successor to begin this fall

UVic president Jamie Cassels. Photo by Hugo Wong, Photo Contributor.

Earlier today, UVic President Jamie Cassels announced that he will be stepping down from his position at the university next year, on June 30, 2020. As his contract requires, Cassels has given the Board of Governors one year’s notice to allow them time to find a new president.

According to the university, the search of Cassels’ successor will begin in the fall of 2019.

“Choosing the right time to make this transition has not been easy, but I believe that the university is well positioned for the future with a talented, vibrant and diverse community,” said Cassels in an email. “I am enthusiastic to move to a new phase, starting with a return to my academic pursuits.”

When asked his reason for leaving office, Cassels said that he feels confident with the strong and stable position in which he is leaving UVic and he is ready to move forward.

“I’ve been at this for a long time and feel that by the end of next year, after 20-plus years of senior leadership, I’ll be ready for a change,” Cassels said.

As for after he steps down from the presidency, Cassels said that his current plan is to return to teaching and his academic pursuits before retiring.

“My legal scholarship needs to be updated, and I love teaching,” said Cassels in an exclusive comment to the Martlet. “I’ll give more thought to what that looks like over the next year, but in the meantime I’ll be fully occupied as president of UVic.”

Cassels received a Bachelor of Arts in law and philosophy from Carleton University and a Bachelor of Laws from University of Western Ontario. He then went on to Columbia University to receive a Master of Law.

Cassels’ first five-year term as president of UVic began July 1, 2013, and he was reappointed for a second term in 2018. Neither Cassels nor the university has commented on Cassels’ reason for leaving office at this time.

In 1981, Cassels joined the University of Victoria as a professor in the Faculty of Law. For more than half of his 38 years at UVic, Cassels has held a senior leadership role. 

UVic Law was ranked one of the best law schools in Canada by recent graduates during Cassels’ time as dean of the Faculty of Law. From 2001 to 2010, Cassels served as UVic’s Vice-President Academic and Provost.

Cassels has received the 3M National Teaching Fellowship, Canada’s highest award for teaching at the university level. He has also been honored with the UVic Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award, the First Year Teaching Award, and two master teacher awards from UVic Law. In April 2016, United Way of Greater Victoria honored him with their most prestigious award, the Chair’s Award of Distinction.

“Jamie is an exceptional president whose strong leadership has benefitted the university greatly during his presidency,” said Beverly Van Ruyven, Chair of the UVic Board of Governors in an email. “Facilitating a smooth transition to the president’s successor is a vital priority.”

The UVic Board of Governors has been informed of Cassel’s impending transition. They have extended the term of Dr. Valerie Kuehne, Vice-President Academic and Provost, due to the critical relationship between this position and the president. Kuehne will now complete her tenure on June 30, 2021, instead of June 2020, as previously planned.

On behalf of the University of Victoria Students Society (UVSS), Jonathan Granirer, UVSS Director of Outreach and University Relations thanked Cassels for his nearly forty years of service. Granirer noted that the UVSS feels Cassels has made significant contributions to the university in that time. 

“We look forward to continuing to work with him for the remainder of his term to ensure that students’ interests are at the centre of decision making at UVic,” said Granirer. “Going forward, the UVSS is eager to be involved in the selection process of the incoming President. We will continue to advocate for student interests throughout this process, including environmental sustainability concerns, reconciliation, and accessible learning.”

Cassel stated that his priorities over the next year include ensuring a smooth transition for his successor, and continue working towards the university’s goals. 

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to make a contribution as president, and for the support that I have received in that role,” said Cassels. “I am proud of what we have achieved together and see great things ahead for UVic.”

This article was updated on June 27 at 4:05 p.m. to include exclusive comments from UVic President Jamie Cassels.