VIU welcomes new Director of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights

Monique McKay surrounded by greenery

September 15, 2022 - 3:30pm

Monique McKay takes on key leadership role with the University

After an extensive recruitment process that focused on equity and inclusion, Vancouver Island University (VIU) is pleased to announce that it has appointed Monique McKay as the Director of the Office of Equity, Diversity and Human Rights.

McKay will be responsible for providing the direction and oversight required to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and human rights as essential elements of VIU’s mission. Through her engagement with university leaders, employees and students, she will lead the promotion and implementation of policies, programs and initiatives that aim to effect systemic change and enhance a university community that is equitable, diverse and inclusive. She will be responsible for moving VIU towards key aspects of its Strategic Plan, People, Place, Potential as stated in part of the ambition “we believe everyone matters here,” which includes ensuring all community members feel safe and welcome on all our campuses and locations.

“I look forward to meeting with students, faculty, staff and leaders to understand the needs and interests of our diverse campus community. I am excited build on the work that has been done on the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan,” says McKay. “I appreciate the opportunity to be part of an innovative team committed to ensuring all students and employees feel welcome at VIU and have the support to succeed in their studies and their work. As a Métis woman, I am grateful to work in higher education and at a place where Indigenous peoples and Nations are valued.”

Most recently, McKay served as Ombuds and Assistant to the President at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she worked with students, employees and administrators to resolve a myriad of issues on an informal basis and advised senior leadership on systemic issues that negatively affected students and employees. Her experience in higher education includes conflict resolution and policy work, advocating for fairness, designing conflict management systems and conducting leadership training. Prior to that role, she was the Graduate Student Ombuds at Virginia Tech and taught mediation at William and Mary Law School.

Additionally, McKay has been a consultant for Indigenous organizations and governments, and Executive Director and Co-founder of The Master Mediator Institute – an educational institute focused on furthering interdisciplinary understandings about neuroscience, human behaviour, conflict resolution and facilitated decision making. Originally from the Canadian Prairies, she also served as Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Indian and Métis Affairs in Saskatchewan.

McKay reports to VIU’s General Counsel and University Secretary, Bill Boyte.

“We are thrilled to welcome Monique, she brings a wealth of legal, dispute resolution, leadership and post-secondary experience,” said Boyte. “Recruiting a professional of Monique’s caliber to this critical role is of major importance in helping us live our values of understanding, connection and commitment. I look forward to supporting her in the growth in equity, diversity and inclusion I am sure she will create at VIU.”

Throughout her career, McKay has continued to serve her communities by participating in numerous educational, Indigenous and non-profit organizations, including Mediators Without Borders as a founding member, with the Dayton Mediation Clinic as a mediator, at the Native Venture Capital Corporation as a board member and as chairperson and board member of the Calgary Aboriginal Urban Affairs Committee.

McKay has a Master of Laws in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute at Pepperdine University and holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Western Ontario. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a Diploma in Journalism for Native Peoples, also from the University of Western Ontario.

McKay started her new role on August 9.


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