Dr. Mark Evered has been watching the University of the Fraser Valley with interest for the past few years. Now he’ll be getting to know the place a lot better, after recently beginning his term as the university’s fifth president and vice-chancellor.
“This is really the capstone to my career,” he says. “It provides me with the opportunity to give back and share experience and knowledge that I’ve gleaned over a long career that started out in a very traditional academic setting and has now led me to an exciting institution early in its university life.”
Evered comes to UFV from the academic vice-president role at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. That institution made the transition from the University College of the Cariboo to regional university status in 2005, so he will bring recent applicable and relevant experience to the job. (UFV, the former University College of the Fraser Valley, received
university status in 2008.)
Evered enjoyed being part of a new kind of university in Kamloops, and
is looking forward to leading one in the Fraser Valley.
“What’s particularly interesting to me about these new universities
in BC is the chance to help create something that’s different from the
traditional model. There is an opportunity here – and indeed an
already-established practice of doing so – to integrate theory and
applied learning in innovative ways. It is often more challenging to
achieve such integration in a traditional university setting.
“I want there to be tangible advantages to having trades such as
welding and carpentry offered in a place that also has programs in
business, biology, sociology, and history, etc. Our breadth of
programming is one of our strengths and we’ll be looking for more ways
to truly interweave theoretical and applied programming.”
UFV went through a long apprenticeship as a university college before
being granted the university label last year, but Evered underscores
that it has been a university in essence for many years now, a point
that local communities drove home as they lobbied for university status
for most of the past decade.
“There is a solid foundation here, and we are now the stewards of
that legacy. I’m happy to note that there are already many
internationally recognized strengths at UFV, and we have good reason to
be proud of this university’s past successes. Our job now is to build
on what’s been established to develop a national and international
reputation for the quality of our education.”
Evered values the regional focus of UFV, and its strong community
“I’m a great believer in universities playing a role not only in
education, but also in the economic, cultural, and social development of
our communities. UFV clearly has a lot of community support. Watching
from afar, I was very impressed with the huge turnout at what turned
into a de facto community rally when Geoff Plant visited the Fraser
Valley as part of his Campus 2020 fact-finding mission. People made it
very clear to the provincial government that they wanted a university
UFV’s new president will be launching a strategic planning process in
the fall, but he already has ideas about which priorities will emerge,
based on UFV’s mandate, values, and past successes.
“As we develop into a university, our governance structures are
changing. For instance, we will be building on the strong tradition of
collegiality at UFV to develop a vibrant, consultative Senate that
provides strong academic leadership.
“I will also be familiarizing myself with our university budget and
our funding issues,” he adds. “We are in an era where more of our
funding will have to come from non-government sources and that brings
with it a number of challenges.”
Evered also wants to focus on the student experience and enhancing
“We are doing very well in meeting or even exceeding our enrolment
targets, but we need to be very aware that students are making decisions
not based solely on academic reputations of universities, but also on
ways in which they will be supported once they get here. We need to
ensure we’re providing a fulfilling and transformative experience that
goes beyond the classroom. It’s very important to me that we do
everything we can to provide a vibrant campus life for students and
community members on all of our campuses.
“We must also be very focused on student success. We have an
obligation to do everything we can to make sure that the students we
admit are provided the supports and guidance they need to succeed.”
While UFV has a provincial mandate to be a teaching-focused university,
Evered also sees faculty and student research as important parts of the
“We will be a teaching-focused, student-focused institution. But
I’m also pleased and excited to see the research opportunities that
are provided to our undergraduate students as a benefit of faculty being
actively engaged in research,” he notes. “And, of course, our
students want faculty who are up-to-date and at the forefront in their
field of expertise – this will be an important part of building our
reputation. I want to continue to integrate teaching and research in a
way that benefits students directly.”
So there’s a lot on the plate for UFV’s new president. He and his
wife Maureen are also enjoying getting to know the Fraser Valley.
Already they’ve been spotted at the Berry Beat Festival in Abbotsford,
the Harrison Festival of the Arts, out and about in Mission, and at
Minter Gardens in Chilliwack, and they’re looking forward to visiting
all the communities that UFV serves.
“We want to express our appreciation for the very warm welcome
we’ve received wherever we’ve gone,” he says. “We’ve
received so many invitations that it’s hard to choose from them
Dr. Evered came to UFV from Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC,
where he served as provost and vice-president academic. He holds a BSc
in biology from McMaster University and a PhD in physiology from the
University of Western Ontario. Over the course of his 30+-year career,
he has held research and academic appointments at Cambridge University,
the University of Western Ontario, the Howard Florey Research Institute
in Melbourne, and the University of Saskatchewan, where he was associate
vice-president academic. He and his wife Maureen have three daughters
and four grandchildren.
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