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U of R welcomes new president

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: March 1, 2021 10:00 a.m.

Dr. Jeff Keshen has been appointed the U of R’s new president and vice-chancellor.
Dr. Jeff Keshen has been appointed the U of R’s new president and vice-chancellor. Photo courtesy of Memorial University

Following an almost year-long, rigorous, national search process, the University of Regina announced this morning the appointment of Dr. Jeff Keshen as the institution’s eighth president. Keshen joins the University after serving as vice-president of Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook, Newfoundland for three and a half years. Previously he served as dean, Faculty of Arts at Mount Royal University in Calgary. He also served as chair of the Department of History at the University of Ottawa and was an adjunct professor in the Centre of Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary. 
 
University of Regina Chair of the Board of Governors, Roger Brandvold, introduced Keshen at a virtual press conference this morning.

“Dr. Keshen’s background as an academic, researcher, and administrator – as well as his commitment advancing the University’s mission of teaching, research and community service – will serve the University well into its 50th anniversary in 2024 and beyond,” said Brandvold.

Brandvold also used the opportunity to thank the Search Advisory Committee and interim president and vice-chancellor, Dr. Thomas Chase, who he acknowledged led the University through what is likely to be the most tumultuous year in its history.

Keshen noted that a strong University leadership and a foundation of success were amongst the reasons that led him to apply for the role.

“There were so many factors that sold me on the University of Regina,” Keshen says. “It has a fantastic strategic plan, it champions ideals that are inspirational, and it has made a firm commitment to Equity Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigenization. The University is comprehensive and accessible. It draws undergraduate and graduate students from around the world. It’s connected to, and is really involved with, its community. It’s young and young at heart. It’s open to experimentation. I think it’s a tremendously exciting place with an amazing future.”

During his time at Memorial University Keshen focused on two main areas. The first was supporting all students, faculty, and staff at the Grenfell Campus through the development of a strategic plan that included commitments and prioritization of student success, Indigenization, and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The enhanced support led to impressive growth, doubled research funding, and resulted in the development of new graduate programs. His second area of focus area was enhancing Grenfell's connections to the community and region. Innovative partnerships with all levels of government, education, and industry resulted in large-scale projects such as a new regional aquatic centre, a centre for research and innovation, and management of the Bonne Bay Marine Station.
 
Keshen had great success developing programs that encourage leadership in young people, including programming for vulnerable and Indigenous students. Keshen was also the driving force behind initiatives that recognized workplace excellence, promoted professional development, and increased employee satisfaction.

He holds a doctoral degree from York University with a research concentration in the history of war and conflict. He was the recipient of the Government of Ontario June Callwood Award for Outstanding Service in Volunteerism for his success with the establishment of the University of Ottawa's Experiential Learning Service. He was double nominee for the 3-M National Teaching Fellowship Award, and was awarded both the Ontario Leadership in Teaching Prize and University of Ottawa's Excellence in Education Prize. 

Keshen is the author of five books, more than 25 scholarly articles, and 11 edited books, including 1995’s Social Welfare Policy in Canada, which he co-edited with Dr. Raymond Blake, a professor of history at the University of Regina.

Among his works, Propaganda and Censorship in Canada's Great War was awarded the best non-fiction book by the Writers Guild of Alberta. It was also shortlisted for the Humanities and Social Sciences Federation of Canada's Harold Adams Innis Prize for the best book in the Social Sciences. His book, Saints, Sinners and Soldiers: Canada's Second World War was shortlisted for the Raymond Klibansky Prize for the best book in the Humanities, a prize awarded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Federation of Canada. The book was also recognized with the C.P. Stacey Prize for the best book in military history.

“I think universities are the hub of our communities,” says Keshen. “People should always feel very comfortable about coming to the University. It’s their place as well. It contributes to their community and provides opportunities for community members to succeed. We want people to be invested in what we do and to recognize that we are really about enriching and improving the community in so many and diverse ways.”

Keshen’s term begins July 1, 2021. He will make the move to Regina with his wife Deborah Moynes-Keshen, and children Jacob and Maddie who will both attend the University of Regina.