VIU dean to head up university in Nova Scotia

A Vancouver Island University dean is heading east to take the top position at Canada's oldest chartered university.

A Vancouver Island University dean is heading east to take the top position at Canada’s oldest chartered university.

Anne Leavitt, social sciences faculty dean, becomes president and vice-chancellor at the University of King’s College in Halifax in August.

Leavitt said she’ll miss VIU, but could not pass up the opportunity to take the top position in a school that emphasizes integrated and interdisciplinary studies.

“There’s wonderful people at VIU and it’s been really exciting to be involved in all the programs and initiatives that go on at that place,” she said. “I’ve really loved being at VIU.”

An opportunity to teach in the interdisciplinary liberal studies program at VIU (then Malaspina University-College) attracted her to Nanaimo in 1993. It was the first bachelor of arts program offered at the institution.

“The unique thing about these kinds of programs is inviting students to encounter great works that have been produced throughout the world without dividing them up into different disciplines,” said Leavitt.

Liberal studies at VIU is team-taught by a group of instructors from a range of backgrounds using participatory seminars.

Leavitt chaired the liberal studies department and also taught and chaired the philosophy department at Malaspina, then became dean of the social sciences faculty in 2005.

She has a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Toronto, a master’s degree in social thought from the University of Chicago and a PhD in philosophy from McMaster University.

She also taught at St. John’s College in New Mexico, Brock University and McMaster University before coming to VIU.

Liberal studies colleague John Black will serve as interim dean of the faculty of social sciences for the next year.

Black, who worked under Leavitt for the past six years, said her common sense and ability to effectively advocate for the department will be missed.

“I think they’re very lucky to get her and it’s a good career move for her as well,” he said. “We’re going to miss her, but we know she’s going to a fine place.”

Leavitt’s appointment followed an eight-month national search conducted by a presidential search committee.