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Memories of the first day of university classes

By Dale Johnson Posted: September 7, 2016 6:00 a.m.

Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Thomas Chase (l-r), President and Vice-Chancellor Vianne Timmons, Vice-President (Administration) Dave Button and Vice-President (Research) David Malloy look back on when they were new students at university.
Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Thomas Chase (l-r), President and Vice-Chancellor Vianne Timmons, Vice-President (Administration) Dave Button and Vice-President (Research) David Malloy look back on when they were new students at university. Photo: U of R Photography

President and Vice-Chancellor Vianne Timmons remembers being “nervous but very excited” when she first set foot in a university classroom. “I remember the energy in the air with all the students arriving.”  

Timmons was an English major at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.

She also recalls “looking around the class wondering if I would be friends with anyone.”  

She had been dropped off at the bus station by her mother, and arrived in Sackville to start a new chapter in her life.

“I felt excitement and a sense of independence. My parents were strict and I craved the freedom.”

For Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Thomas Chase, his first experience as a university student was right here at the U of R in September 1974 – just a couple of months after the U of R had become an independent institution and was no longer a campus affiliated with the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.

Chase remembers the orange shag carpeting in the Ad-Hum pit, and recalls feeling excited and nervous “plus exhilaration at being in university, and worries about money.”

Chase soon switched his major from administration.

“I remember a brilliant English 100 class from Tom Rendall, who is still teaching, though now at Peking University in Beijing. His enthusiasm, knowledge, and ability to write on the blackboard over his shoulder while lecturing imperturbably led me to switch majors to English halfway through the first semester. I've never regretted it.”

The Vice-President of Administration, Dave Button, says his first day of classes as an engineering student at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston Ontario was “crazy busy and so adrenal packed that there wasn't much time for thinking. So much happens on the first day that fortunately you have little time to get nervous or think about what is happening.”

The Vice-President of Research, David Malloy, recalls his first day of classes as a Kinesiology major at the University of Western Ontario in London.

“I was a bit tired because of a little too much socializing in Medway Hall (my residence) with new friends the night before. With no curfew from Mom and Dad, I had to learn very quickly that freedom and responsibility went hand in hand.”

Malloy had suffered a sports injury earlier in the summer, so was on crutches when classes began.

“I was very excited and intimidated. I remember thinking it was going to be impossible for me to get to my classes on time when they were all in different buildings across a huge campus. However, I soon made friends in residence and remember everyone was so helpful and extraordinarily kind,” Malloy recalls.

With the benefit of hindsight, what advice can they give to new students at the University of Regina?

Timmons says “Get involved, and you will get out of university what you put into the experience.”

Chase explains that “The person in the next seat is probably much more scared than you. Seek out people very different from you, and come to understand their aspirations and their enthusiasms. University is a life-changing experience. Enjoy it and embrace its riches for all they are worth. They, and those you meet, will sustain you for decades to come.

As for Button: “My advice would be the same advice I'd give anyone starting anything new - a new job, joining a new team, or starting new classes. First impressions are so important, so put forward the impression you want people to think of you as. In the case of classes, I'd suggest that is to appear studious and engaged. Sit in the front row, no matter what your preference is.”

And Malloy says “Realize that all of the anxiety you may be feeling now will completely disappear within two weeks. Everyone in first year feels the same and you'll get through it - you are definitely not alone.”