Josephine Chong Celebrates 35 years of Dedicated Service to VIU

February 26, 2021 - 1:00am

Josephine Chong has been an important member of the VIU community for 35 years. Hers is a familiar face to anyone who visits the Faculty of Trades and Applied Technology, and the Culinary Arts department in particular. She supports students and employees as a program assistant whose love for students is matched only by her love for food. Although it seems hard to believe now, she did not start at VIU in the Culinary Arts department.

Josephine was hired as a CUPE casual in September 1985. This was followed by some temporary appointments (Clerk/Typist and Secretary), until she obtained regular employment April 1, 1986 in the position of Secretary to the Associate Dean, Vocational/Developmental Programs. Later she moved to Secretary in Food Services which evolved to Supervisor – Food Services. She then moved from this position to a Secretary position which eventually became a Program Assistant in Culinary.

Below are some thoughts and stories shared by close colleagues and friends of Josephine’s. She has many nicknames and is known for her warmth, caring and desire to help students succeed:

  • Through Josephine’s 35 years at VIU, “Chef Mum” has touched the hearts of more than 3,000 culinary graduates, with her caring and giving demeanour. Her enlightened advice and counsel benefit the vast field of staff and faculty throughout VIU. She is known by all as a cornerstone of the VIU community who will tell you like it is, good or bad, all while setting you at ease knowing her heart lies with student success.  “Jojo’s” love of food is ever present, and her willingness to help organize student-led events, peer dinners, community celebrations, or even simple get-togethers are often highlights of the year. She often entices students to perform music, dance, or shows during our events to the delight of everyone! To meet and have the pleasure to work with someone as completely invested in VIU, its students, the community and our well-being as Josephine is a joy and an honour. 

Jason Lloyd, Acting Associate Dean, Trades & Applied Technology


  • Josephine’s nickname among the chef instructors is the “pitbull” because of her dogged persistence when trying to solve a challenging problem. Jo is the best at keeping track of, and getting payment for, funds owed to the Culinary Arts department. Woe to the person or department who is delinquent in completing their JV transfer or payment. The pitbull will be on their case! Jo’s office door is always open for struggling students. It’s a common sight to walk past her office and see a student sitting with Jo having a chat. Jo ensures inter-departmental cooperation by providing lovely boxes of baked goods from the pastry department at Christmas time (bribery is an essential part of Jo’s job). Jo knows the names of all the department employees’ spouses and children and never fails to ask after them. She often brings in home-cooked treats for employees, and if someone is sick, she visits them or drops off a small gift. Jo is a master networker who works tirelessly to promote Culinary events among her many friends. In short, Jo has worked very hard for the Culinary department for decades and has always done whatever needed to be done to ensure student success and the smooth running of our department.

Rita Gower, Acting Chair, Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island, Chair, Professional Baking and Pastry Arts


  • Josephine welcomed me as the first woman instructor in the program back in 1993. She is a tireless ambassador for the program, the students and the instructors. She worked with the old guard chefs, keeping them in line and supporting their transition from running the cafeteria and Discovery Room with hospitality management programs, to being poorly partnered as Food Services, which was created and transformed from non-food service people to the current positive arrangement. She has worked through numerous program changes resulting from government changes, Dean changes, Chair changes and supports a whole student body full of people whose backgrounds are varied and unique. Pretty sure she started with something close to a typewriter and has had to navigate computer programming, internet and online platforms without missing a beat. She has a strong sense of family and she brings that into her daily work ethic. She has been the rock that held us all together organizing events, helping students in need and even hosting the University Presidents’ guests. How do you say only one little thing? She is tiny but she is an atom bomb. I love her, wish her the best and congratulate her on her resilience, positive spirit and sense of humour.

Deb Shore, Culinary Arts Instructor


Tags: In the Community

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