CBC’s Shelagh Rogers named University of Victoria chancellor

National radio host Shelagh Rogers is looking forward to inducting graduates into their new lives as chancellor of the University of Victoria.

“You realize you’re almost like a midwife, delivering students not only into the UVic family, but also into the world and into the lives that UVic has prepared them for,” Rogers said of her duties, which include conferring degrees at convocation.

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Rogers begins her three-year term on Jan. 1.

“Shelagh Rogers is a distinguished Canadian, an engaged citizen, an outstanding professional and a wonderful communicator,” UVic president Jamie Cassels said at Thursday’s announcement.

“She’s recognized across Canada as communicator par excellence, dedicated to broadening our understanding of the world and each other and dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge.

“She’s perhaps the country’s best listener, and education is a lot about listening.”

Rogers, who lives on Gabriola Island, has been a regular guest speaker and host at UVic events.

She is host and producer of CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, a program featuring interviews with authors and songwriters. She attended the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2011 northern national event in Inuvik as an honorary witness and co-edited Speaking My Truth: Reflections on Reconciliation and Residential School, a collection of essays published in 2012. She has also volunteered for literacy and mental-health initiatives and is an officer of the Order of Canada.

“To speak in a very ‘non-chancellorial way,’ I’m thrilled out of my being,” Rogers said. “After many years of not being on campus — although pursuing lifelong learning at the CBC — it’s wonderful to be back.”

Rogers said she identifies with UVic’s values, especially its civic engagement and a focus on indigenous cultures.

“This is a very powerful thing for me and for the healing of Canada, I believe,” she said.

The chancellor is the university’s titular head and serves as a member of the university’s senate and board of governors.

“But in reality, the chancellor is much more than that,” said Erich Mohr, chairman of the university’s board of governors, which is responsible for the appointment.

“The chancellor symbolizes the university and its values. He or she is an ambassador, a champion and a unifying force.”

Murray Farmer has served as chancellor since 2008 and will complete his term in December. He is in Europe this week, but his wife, Lynda, shared a message to Rogers on his behalf: “There is no doubt you will come to recognize the very special nature, in fact the magic, that is inherent in this position. I am confident that this sense of wonder will accompany you through your term.”

Former chancellors include Ronald Lou-Poy and Norma Mickelson.

The position is unpaid.

Rogers is also one of five people receiving an honorary doctorate of letters at Vancouver Island University’s convocation ceremonies next week.

asmart@timescolonist.com

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