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Interim President's Friday Message

Updated on Feb 5
Tags: students, all updates

Flag at half-mast in honour of Dr Jacqueline Shumiatcher CM, SOM

The Canadian flag at the University’s main campus in Regina has been lowered to half-mast today in memory of past honorary degree recipient Dr Jacqueline Shumiatcher CM, SOM. Jacqui, as she was known to all, passed away earlier this week at age 97.

Together with her late husband Dr Morris Shumiatcher, Jacqui was a longtime patron of the arts and a dedicated supporter of many charitable organizations in the province. She and Morris were steadfast and generous supporters of the University of Regina. Over the past few decades, they created scholarships for students, established the Shu-Box Theatre in the Riddell Centre, and donated their extensive collection of art to the University for the enjoyment and education of future generations.

Jacqui was one of a kind – elegant, gracious, kind, and generous of spirit, and invariably smiling. She was a friend and role model to many, and our province is a better place for her having made it her home.

An update on mental wellness supports for students

At last week’s University town hall devoted to health, safety, and wellness, two speakers – Director of Student Success Kevin Bolen and Executive Director of the University of Regina Online Therapy Unit Dr Heather Hadjistavropoulos - provided updates on mental wellness supports available to University of Regina students. With the Winter term well under way and the COVID-19 pandemic nearing the one-year mark in the province, a number of people at the town hall asked that I draw attention to Kevin and Heather’s updates.

Kevin spoke about the supports provided by Counselling Services’ team of five clinicians – all registered psychologists led by Dr Jenny Keller. Jenny and her fellow clinicians have extensive experience in treating a wide variety of mental health concerns, and use a Stepped Care delivery model whereby students are presented with options for services that go beyond traditional one-to-one therapy (for example, group sessions, online help, self-help, and peer supports).

As the pandemic took hold in April 2020, the Counselling Services team began used ZOOM Healthcare to provide confidential mental health support to students at a distance. This adaptation permits clinicians to reach students who ordinarily might not have been able to attend in-person appointments. Since then, the team has held 2,475 ZOOM Healthcare consultations with students, in addition to providing other referrals and information about online help resources.

Kevin also noted that a November 2020 report in the Toronto Star provided evidence of the University’s increased attention to student mental health in recent years. Of the approximately 100 Canadian universities surveyed, since 2015 the University of Regina has placed second in terms of its proportional investment in mental health services. This investment has included an increase from two to five full-time clinicians. In addition, the University of Regina is one of only four institutions that does not have a wait time for student support.

Heather’s participation in the town hall included discussing the Online Therapy Unit’s five-week Uniwellbeing program, which receives key support from the provincial government.

As noted in my 18 September message, Heather and her team have designed Uniwellbeing specifically for all Saskatchewan postsecondary students, not just those at the University of Regina. The program allows students to receive weekly support from an online therapist as they work through materials at a time that is convenient for them.

By addressing symptoms of a variety of stressors including university studies and COVID-19, Uniwellbeing helps students learn to identify symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress, and develop strategies to manage thoughts and behaviours associated with them. To date, close to 300 students from across the province have enrolled in the Uniwellbeing course and support has been offered by five clinicians.

The Online Therapy Unit also offers a similar course for all adults in Saskatchewan, as well as treatment courses for those who are concerned about how they are using alcohol and those who have chronic health conditions.

I encourage all who were unable to attend the town hall to view it here, paying special attention to Kevin and Heather’s updates which begin at the 18-minute mark. As well, please take time to familiarize yourself with the University’s Mental Wellness Hub, which was launched in Fall 2020 to provide a comprehensive digital mental wellness resource for students, faculty, and staff.

Kevin and Heather – thank you for everything you and your teams continue to do to support the mental wellness of our students.

Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards to be broadcast February 10

The 17th annual Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards (ACAA) ceremony will take place on the evening of Wednesday, February 10 to honour five of our most distinguished alumni.

The alumni to be honoured for their professional achievements and community involvement are:

  • Shawna Argue BASc’87 – Lifetime Achievement Award;
  • Rosalie Tsannie-Burseth MEd’01 - Distinguished Professional Achievement Award;
  • Robert Jamont BPAS’89 - Dr Robert & Norma Ferguson Award for Outstanding Service;
  • Jacq Brasseur CSW’13, BSW’15 - Award for Distinguished Humanitarian & Community Service; and
  • Christine Selinger BEd’11, BSc’11 - Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Further detail about the recipients may be found here.

In lieu of a live in-person event, a special ACAA video has been produced and will be broadcast at 8:00 p.m. that evening on AccessNow TV. For those who do not subscribe to Access Communications, in subsequent days it may also be viewed on the University of Regina Facebook page and YouTube channel.

The fiction of Steven Millhauser – “what’s seductive is mysterious”

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Steven Millhauser has had a long and distinguished career, publishing four novels and nine collections of short fiction. Introducing We Others (2011), Millhauser speaks of how he selected the work that appears in the collection. "I chose stories that seized my attention as if they'd been written by someone whose work I had never seen before. What makes a story bad, or good, or better than good, can be explained and understood up to a point, but only up to a point. What's seductive is mysterious and can never be known. I prefer to leave it at that."

In a 2011 interview, Étienne Février suggests to Millhauser that he is a "maker of myth." Millhauser responds: "I'd be happy to agree with it if I knew what it meant .... Myths that belong to some other world hold no interest for me. If I create fictional other worlds, it's only in order to penetrate the one world that interests me."

You can hear Millhauser read one of the stories in We Others, "The Knife Thrower," in a SUNY webcast available here.


Thomas Chase

Interim President and Vice-Chancellor