Dr. Ralph Nilson re-elected for third term as VIU President and Vice-Chancellor

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Above: Dr. Ralph Nilson, newly reappointed President and Vice-Chancellor of VIU (right) with Allan Wiekenkamp, chair of the VIU Board of Governors. 📷 VIU Communications

By News Editor Aislinn Cottell

Dr. Ralph Nilson has been reappointed for his third term in office at VIU. In 2015, the VIU Board of Governors created a committee consisting of governors, the chancellor, faculty, staff, and students, which reviewed Nilson’s previous terms over the winter between November 2015 and March 2016 and reported their recommendation to the Board.

“The predominant theme that came out of that process is how well-respected Nilson is with both internal and external stakeholders of the University,” said Allan Wiekenkamp, Chair of the VIU Board of Governors. “It is a testament to his leadership and dedication to the institution and community.”

Nilson first became VIU President in January 2007, only a year before the school received its university designation and transitioned from the Malaspina College-University to become VIU. Prior to his appointment, Nilson had been Vice-President Academic at Acadia University in Nova Scotia; Director of the Indigenous Peoples Health Research Centre at the First Nations University of Canada; and Dean and Professor for the faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies at the University of Regina. He holds an undergraduate degree in Geography and Kinesiology from Simon Fraser University, and a PhD in Physical Education, Health, and Recreation from the University of Oregon.

“The Board is so pleased that Dr. Nilson has decided to stay on,” said Wiekenkamp. “From the start of his tenure, he has had a clear vision for VIU which has allowed us to navigate challenging times in the post-secondary sector. Dr. Nilson has successfully guided the institution in the transition from Malaspina University-College to Vancouver Island University. As well, his leadership has brought VIU to the national stage, through innovative programs like the Tuition Waiver Program for former youth in care, his extensive efforts in building ties with First Nations communities, and his commitment to making VIU a place for engaging in conversations on tough subjects, including the important topic of reconciliation.”

Nilson says he is looking forward to furthering VIU’s involvement in the reconciliation efforts, as well as opening educational opportunities to all those who desire them, developing new innovative programs to meet the needs of students and the community, strengthening collaborative relationships with partners, and celebrating the achievements of students, staff, alumni and faculty of the campus.

“It’s pretty good [to be reelected], I enjoy the people I work with at the university, I enjoy the community that we work with, I enjoy all the opportunities we have as an educational institution to contribute to what I think are some very interesting evolving agendas in the country,” said Nilson. “I am committed to ensuring that VIU continues the incredible work we are doing in many different areas, including building bridges towards reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous peoples; establishing a thriving international student body; and creating exceptional learning opportunities, both here and abroad, for all of our students.”

“I look forward to celebrating a number of VIU milestones during this next term, including the completion of our new facilities, and continuing conversations with our stakeholders to ensure that VIU will continue to have a positive and ongoing impact in all the communities and regions we serve, both close to home and around the world.”

Nilson’s new term will run from January 1, 2017, to June 30, 2019.

“I offer warm congratulations to Ralph, our President, and our deep appreciation that he will continue to provide his unique and beautiful expression of leadership to this great university,” said Louise Mandell, VIU Chancellor. “It is a privilege to work with Ralph, who builds unity by welcoming diversity, and opens up pathways for reconciliation where VIU is leading the way. This year, I witnessed Ralph receiving the name Kwa’kwa’ni, which in the Kwakwaka’wakw language means ‘crane.’ The crane is a symbol of justice, of poise and balance, and of having proper focus–this is a perfect name for Ralph.”


Aislinn is a third year Bachelor of Arts and Science student majoring in creative writing and minoring in chemistry. New to The Nav team this year, she’s enjoying finding out about all the interesting things happening on campus. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, Netflix, and the copious consumption of coffee.