Former Dean receives Honorary Doctorate from VIU

November 7, 2008 - 12:48am

When Carol Matthews looks back on her years of service to Vancouver Island University, it’s the relationships that bring back the strongest memories.

To honour her more than 20 years of outstanding commitment, Matthews will receive an Honorary Doctorate Degree at the VIU convocation ceremony at the Port Theatre on December 12, 2008.

“It was both a surprise and a great honour when I was told I would be receiving the honorary doctorate,” said Matthews. “This institution has meant so much to me in its many iterations. To receive a recognition of this kind now that VIU is a full university is a great honour.”

Matthews has a long involvement at VIU, starting as a student back when it was called Malaspina College and operated out of the old hospital building downtown.

“Things are very different now,” she said. “It’s a different world. This institution has always held great importance in the community, but now it’s a major employer and has integral relationships in all areas of our community. There will be a lot of challenges to deal with, but fortunately there are a lot of talented and bright people here who I believe will make good decisions. I don’t know any other post-secondary institution that has such a positive culture and environment.”

Matthews has worked at VIU as a member of faculty, as an associate dean, as a dean, as a research associate, with continuing studies and with the regional campuses. She has had considerable involvement with the development of First Nations programs and setting up the initial First Nations Advisory Council. She officially retired in 1999 from the position of Dean of Instruction, Human Services Programs and Community Education, but continued her involvement with the institution through her position as Honorary Research Associate. At the time of her retirement, she was awarded the Association for Canadian Community Colleges National Leadership Award, which is only given out once a year.

“Carol Matthews dedication to Vancouver Island University has been exemplary,” said VIU President, Dr. Ralph Nilson. “We were overwhelmed with faculty and student testimonials regarding her commitment to education, leadership, community and teaching. Her ability to motivate, inspire and encourage others has created a legacy of respect at VIU that will continue for years to come.”

“Carol is an accomplished educator who leads by example,” said Jay Ruzesky, a professor in the English department at VIU. “Carol fundamentally redesigned the process of learning to follow a more cooperative model and, by doing so, exemplified what it means to be an excellent leader.”

Matthews has also regularly supported and recognized others by helping to establish awards for students, including the Carol Mathews Community Service Award and the Carol Mathews Human Service Award through VIU. These were set up several years ago through contributions from family and friends.

Strong relationships are a large part of Matthew 's career and she considers herself lucky to have shared the lives of so many great people.

“The thing that stands out for me is the incredible people I have met along the way,” she said. “Ever year, it was inspiring to visit the students in their programs, seeing the work being done and watching them graduate. I have been enormously fortunate to work with wonderful people across the institution, at all the campuses and in the community.”

Matthews is very busy these days with other projects, including a seat on the Board of Directors for the Port Theatre and KIDS International (a local group who travel to third world countries each year building houses and providing assistance to children and families in need). She is also an active writer, with three published books and several published short stories, essays and articles. She also volunteers on committees with the Sustainability Task Force at Nanaimo Family Life and the Institute for Community Leadership at VIU. While not busy writing or volunteering, she loves to spend time with her family.

“I really want to emphasize that I am very deeply honoured to be recognized in this way,” she said. “I am very grateful to those who put my name forward.”

VIU awards honorary credentials to individuals who display a standard of excellence, innovation, accomplishment and service which is exemplary to students, faculty and staff, and to society generally.


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