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HEADING NORTH – Dr. Mike DeGagné will begin a five-year term as Yukon University’s president and vice-chancellor on Canada Day, board of governors announced Wednesday afternoon. Photo courtesy Yukon University

Ontario educator named university’s president, vice-chancellor

The new Yukon University has looked to Ontario for its next president and vice-chancellor.

By Whitehorse Star on March 26, 2020

The new Yukon University has looked to Ontario for its next president and vice-chancellor.

Dr. Mike DeGagné will begin a five-year term on July 1, 2020, the board of governors announced Wednesday afternoon.

He will be the eighth president of the Yukon’s only post-secondary institution, succeeding Dr. Karen Barnes, who has served two terms since 2011 and will retire June 30. She had originally intended to retire a couple of years ago.

DeGagné comes to YukonU from Nipissing University, in North Bay, Ont.

He was appointed Nipissing president and vice-chancellor in 2013, as one of the first Indigenous presidents of a Canadian public university.

While president of Nipissing, DeGagné dedicated much of his life to Indigenous issues and ensuring Nipissing University took a leading role in the Indigenization of the post-secondary education sector.

During his tenure, the university experienced growth in both its graduate and undergraduate programs as well as a 70 per cent increase in research funding. 

Nipissing also strengthened its position as one of the top universities in the country for student experience, mental health services, residence experience and overall student satisfaction. 

“The establishment of Yukon University is a significant milestone in our country’s history,” DeGagné said in a statement.

“I am inspired by the tremendous dedication to students, the northern-focused applied research, and commitment to Indigenization and Reconciliation present at this dynamic institution.

“Together, with our community partners and guidance from Yukon First Nations, we can build a future that excites our youth and drives Yukon to greater prosperity.”

DeGagné is not being made available to the media for interviews about his his new job.

The YukonU board engaged the executive recruitment firm Boyden to assist the search for the new president.

DeGagné was recommended by a president search committee, chaired by Chancellor Piers McDonald and comprised of board members, faculty, staff, senior executives, a student and Yukon First Nations elders.

“Joining us from Northern Ontario, Dr. DeGagné understands and appreciates the Yukon context,” said David Morrison, chair of the Yukon University board of governors.

“He is a proven leader of a young university that is responsive to the needs of the community it serves, and offers a diversity of undergraduate programming to local students.

“Under Dr. DeGagné’s leadership, Yukon University will establish itself as a northern-focused hybrid university, with strong partnerships across Yukon, the North and Canada.”

Yukon College became Yukon University in February, when the Yukon University Act came into force.

The university is planned to officially launch in May 2020. So far, there has been no word of any potential postponement due to the COVID-19 crisis.

DeGagné holds a PhD in Education focusing on Indigenous post-secondary success from Michigan State University.

He lectures regionally, nationally and internationally in the areas of Indigenous governance and reconciliation.

His career includes working with the federal government in management of Indigenous programs and as a negotiator of comprehensive land claims.

From 1998 to 2012, he served as the founding executive director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, a national organization which addressed the legacy of Indian Residential Schools.

DeGagné is a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario as well as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Most recently, he was inducted into the Nipissing District Human Rights Hall of Fame, awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Law from Dalhousie University and an Indspire award for Public Service.

Comments (6)

Up 0 Down 0

KingHasNoClothes on Apr 1, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Amidst all the ballyhoo, just remember that the place is NOT a university in any sense other than by name. It only makes sense if there is a huge influx of lecturing staff with peer-reviewed and internationally-published work of a standard equivalent to a REAL university. Close, but definitely no cigar.

Up 8 Down 0

Lost In the Yukon on Mar 31, 2020 at 5:22 pm

No one should be surprised ... many loyal, competent and local members of the local liberal party worked their asses off getting them elected only to find they were shunned by Slippery Sandy Silver once they got elected. SSS alienated many long time supporters by turning his back on them.

Up 10 Down 1

HML on Mar 31, 2020 at 9:57 am

Shame that we always have to bring someone from Ontario or BC to fill this new position.

Up 66 Down 13

Jack on Mar 27, 2020 at 3:36 am

Surely there is a Yukoner able to fill this role instead of bringing some Liberal party crony all the way from Ontario?
There should be an open and transparent investigation into this improper appointment at once!

Up 24 Down 3

JC on Mar 26, 2020 at 4:37 pm

BnR: Don't forget Quebec.

Up 78 Down 14

BnR on Mar 26, 2020 at 2:17 pm

Fine print at bottom of all YG job posts:
*Preference will be given to those applicants from Ontario.

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