The soon-to-be president of the University of the Fraser Valley says she is keen to listen to rural and Indigenous communities.
Joanne MacLean will officially become president May 1, taking over from interim president Jackie Hogan who has held the position since last June.
Agassiz, Hope and other rural communities will not be forgotten, she assured.
“One of the things that I feel really passionate about is that we are the university of the Fraser Valley and that includes this lovely, beautiful, wonderful geographical area and that its important for us to be looking for ways to have an impact, yes in the City of Abbotsford and the City of Chilliwack and the City of Hope, but also much more regionally than that,” she said.
Hope, which hosts a small outpost of the university, offers upgrading courses, continuing education classes and services for students of UFV such as the options to take university exams there.
MacLean also wants to collaborate with Indigenous communities in the area.
“We have been doing some great work in trying to build partnerships and relationships across Seabird and Sto:lo Nation and others,” she said, referring to one joint research project with Fraser Health, Seabird Island Band and Sto:lo Nation. The land-based resiliency project involved youth from Seabird learning from elders about their traditional foods, stories and ways of life to protect youth from the threat of suicide.
“Here at UFV and out in the community there are great ideas being born, of other things that we can be doing,” MacLean said.
While MacLean’s merits stand on their own, including 30 years in teaching and administration in the academic fields of sport, recreation and health, she is also a woman with a female partner.
“I bring a perspective to the campus, certainly, as a female, as a gay woman,” she said, even though she would prefer to focus on her achievements as she says they are much more interesting than her gender or sexual orientation.
“I grew up in a family with a couple of parents who always told me, you work hard, you give it your all and your best and you can do anything.”
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