A cross-Canada search for Brandon University’s 15th president has ended right here at home in the Wheat City.
Dr. Gervan Fearon, a familiar face on campus, will be BU’s next president. Fearon’s five-year appointment as president and vice-chancellor will begin Aug. 1.
Currently the university’s vice-president and academic provost, Fearon said he plans to make this transition a "constructive" one.
"It’s quite an honour and quite a privilege to be a part of the team at the university, but really as part of the team across the city," he said.
"The university has really deep roots in this city and is very much about building and contributing to the vibrancy of the city at large and communities in the region."
BU’s board of governors made the announcement Thursday, confirming a previous Sun report that Fearon was being tapped for the university’s top job.
Laura McDougald-Williams, BU board chair and chair of the presidential search committee, said the search, which began in the fall, received an "encouraging number" of interested applicants but only four, including Fearon, were interviewed.
"We’re quite excited to have Dr. Fearon in this new role and we’re really looking forward to the work he’s going to do," she said, adding board members approved Fearon’s appointment during a closed meeting at the end of May.
"He’s been working at BU, he knows the people there and he understands what BU needs and he’s got some great ideas for its future direction."
Fearon will also be the university’s first black president, which he says is a testament to how welcoming Brandon is.
"This is a welcoming, forward thinking community and I’m really proud to be a part of it," he said.
Fearon joined BU in 2013 as part of the senior executive team and in his current position, he has been helping develop its academic plan.
The core message the university is working on developing, he said, is "being a leading, innovative, engaged university."
"We want to be innovative in regards to our curriculum, programming ... we want to be leading ... we want to be engaged."
He said he’s open to partnerships and would like to see the local university be recognized "at a global level."
Fearon holds a PhD in economics from the University of Western Ontario and degrees in agricultural economics from the University of Guelph. He served as a dean at Ryerson University in Toronto, associate dean at York University, and was an executive assistant to the deputy minister at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Deborah Poff, BU’s current president and vice-chancellor, is stepping down from her post at the end of July after stating she wouldn’t seek a second mandate last year.
Poff, who served for five years as president, said she’s "absolutely delighted" to pass the torch over to Fearon.
"I’ve worked closely with him over the last year ... and I have no doubt that he will do an absolutely wonderful job," she said.
Fearon said the university will host a special robing ceremony to officially install him as BU’s next president in the fall.