In this July 2012 photo, Brandon University president Deborah Poff and Mayor Shari Decter Hirst applaud an agreement for public use of the Healthy Living Centre — one of the highlights of Poff’s tenure at the helm of the university.
Brandon University’s first female president is proud of what she has accomplished during her five-year term.
"I think it was a pretty good five years," outgoing BU president and vice-chancellor Deborah Poff said. "I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished."
Poff said launching BU’s BUILD fundraising campaign and advancing student success efforts were among the highlights during her tenure.
"We’ve taken the issue of student success much more seriously," Poff said, adding BU now employs a range of recruitment, student success and skills training officers. "In the long run, that’s going to help more students be successful in their studies."
When asked how much the BUILD campaign has raised since fundraising began in 2012, Poff was unable to provide firm numbers.
However, in January she told the Sun the campaign had raised more than $5 million.
"It’s been very successful to date," she said.
The campaign is comprised of three components, including raising $7 million for the Healthy Living Centre, $5 million for student scholarships and bursaries and $10 million for aboriginal student success.
"It’s a great facility," Poff said, referring to the Healthy Living Centre, which opened in 2012. "It’s not only great for students and staff ... but the community’s making good use of it, so I’m pleased about that."
At the end of this month, Poff will step down from the university’s top job after announcing last year she wouldn’t seek another term. Incoming president Dr. Gervan Fearon, who is currently BU’s vice-president and academic provost, will take over on Aug. 1.
Poff’s term started after the 17-day strike of faculty and administration members in 2008. However, talks broke down again in 2011, resulting in a 45-day strike.
"The first strike was happening while I was being interviewed for the job," Poff said. "I think that nobody really wants that to happen again.
"Strikes are very difficult for everyone."
Despite not being able to see BU’s mature student housing project come to fruition, Poff said she’s "optimistic" the project will move forward.
"Although I would have liked to see it open before I left, I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen."
Poff has announced plans to retire to the Ottawa area to write and conduct a number of research projects.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 15, 2014