Catherine Dauvergne begins term as SFU’s new Vice-President, Academic and Provost

Dauvergne’s priorities are to decolonize and indigenize SFU during her term

Photo courtesy of SFU News

Written by: Karissa Ketter, News Writer

SFU has announced its new Vice-President, Academic and Provost, Dr. Catherine Dauvergne. Taking over for Dr. Jonathan Driver, Dauvergne’s term will run from November 23, 2020 to August 25, 2025.

In an interview with The Peak, Dauvergne discussed her role at SFU. “What motivated me to accept this position is really that I’m very excited about the directions that SFU is moving in at the moment and the priorities that President [Joy] Johnson has set.”

According to Dauvergne, her role at SFU involves “most [of the] ways that students interact with the university: athletics and recreation is in this portfolio, residences, [and] academic planning.” She is the senior academic officer at SFU who will work closely with faculty, deans, and oversee all undergraduate and graduate academic programs.

Prior to this position, Dauvergne was on the faculty at UBC’s Allard School of Law for about 13 years.  While there, she took on certain administrative roles such as Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies and Dean of the law school.

Dauvergne’s background is in refugee, immigration, and citizenship law which she approaches through a feminist perspective. She has been named a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation and was granted the Queen’s Counsel designation in 2019 for her contributions to Canadian discourse. Dauvergne is also a published author with multiple works that are “read and taught across disciplines,” according to the Trudeau Foundation.

During her last five-year term at UBC, Dauvergne “implemented an experiential learning curriculum, developed a post-graduation debt-relief pilot program [ . . . ] and led the implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action within the school,” according to an SFU news release.

“Some of the things that I’m most excited about are the big challenges around work to decolonize and indigenize the university. That’s enormously complex and not easy work but it’s really important and meaningful, and I’m very excited to have a role to play there. I’m also really interested in the direction that SFU has set around equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Dauvergne.

Like many students and faculty at SFU, Dauvergne is also experiencing challenges with the shift to online learning and working. She said, “We know this is really difficult for students and [ . . . ] faculty and I’m immensely proud of the university community for keeping things going.” She said it has been “hard to join a new organization when there’s no capacity to actually get to know people, to attend student events, to go to meet faculty.” She added, “It’s a very strange time.”

Dauvergne noted that “one of the biggest concerns with having almost all of our learning in an online setting is just trying to ensure that both students and faculty have the things that they need to move forward.”

She expressed hope for the coming semesters and reported that “the number of people who will be on campus will almost double in the semester that starts next week and so we’ve learned about appropriate safety protocols and we’ve managed to have in-person learning without any [COVID-19] outbreaks.” Dauvergne added, “We’re encouraged by the progress we’ve made so far and we’re looking forward to some expansion.”

According to Dauvergne, “[SFU administration is] already starting to talk about how it is that we will transition back to an in-person environment. I’m hoping that that’s sometime within the next year.”