Q&A with Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU's new President and Vice-Chancellor

Dr. Deb Saucier, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor

For Dr. Deb Saucier, returning to Vancouver Island is a homecoming.

September 18, 2019 - 2:15pm

For Dr. Deb Saucier, returning to Vancouver Island is a homecoming.

VIU’s new President and Vice-Chancellor as of July 4, 2019, Saucier spent many of her formative years here completing first an International Baccalaureate diploma at Metchosin-based Lester B. Pearson College of the Pacific, and then bachelor’s and master’s degrees in psychology at the University of Victoria. The accomplished neuroscientist, educator and university administrator, who most recently served as president of MacEwan University in Edmonton, was drawn to VIU for its commitment to student success, teaching quality, supporting a healthy workplace, and its proven commitment and track record of serving coastal and Indigenous communities. 

Saucier is looking forward to carrying on the transformative work VIU has been doing in the communities it serves, and showing her 11-year-old daughter, Mia, and her husband, Chai Duncan, a curator and contemporary artist, the places she enjoyed exploring in her younger years. Saucier was happy to share a few details about her journey so far, and some of her plans while at VIU.


Why did you choose a career in academia? 

To be honest, I fell into a career in academia. During graduate school, it became clear to me that I loved the combination of research and teaching, so academia really fit these interests. I also loved meeting students and hearing what they were interested in and what they were worried about, then tailoring their experiences in the lab/classroom to try and help them realize their dreams. 


What are some of the strengths you feel you bring to the position of President of VIU?  

It is really important to demonstrate that your personal values are aligned with the institution’s values. It is clear that my values and those of VIU are aligned. As well, I am an essentially happy person, and I think that my optimistic approach will encourage people to bring their best selves to the VIU community. Finally, I am a good listener and I use what I learn to inform decisions and assess challenges and their potential solutions.

I believe that education is transformative, in that it transforms individuals and the communities to which they belong. This can be demonstrated through VIU’s commitment to the learners in the mid-Island and coastal communities. Many of our students do not want to or cannot leave our region, and without the opportunities provided by VIU, access to educational opportunities would be limited. When our students stay here and become local entrepreneurs, we show in a real way the power that regional institutions have as significant players in the economic and social development of communities. 


What are some of the things you hope to achieve during your time at VIU?  

First and foremost, I hope to learn and incorporate the culture of VIU into my daily practice. Universities all have unique cultures, and learning what makes a university tick is at the heart of recognizing what opportunities will make it thrive and where there may be unique potential.

­­­I would like to help VIU strengthen the achievements of the last decade, particularly related to VIU’s engagement with Indigenous learners and their communities; and to develop ways to stretch and grow these into new opportunities. Second, I hope to increase the prominence of VIU’s variety of programs, particularly in the communities that we serve, so that we can meet our commitment to providing access to high-quality education. Finally, I hope to promote the importance of diversity across the institution because having a wide variety of viewpoints and experiences at the table will help ensure VIU’s long-term relevance and sustainability.


If you could choose a different career path, what would it be?  

That is a really hard question, as I really love my job. However, if I had to choose a different career and based on what I find interesting in my current position, I might consider something related to law and governance.

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