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Laurentian University appoints new president, vice-chancellor

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Following the resignation of former Laurentian University President Robert Haché more than a year ago, the Sudbury institution is announcing its new permanent leadership.

After a nationwide search, Dr. Lynn Wells has been appointed as Laurentian's 12th president and vice-chancellor as the school continues to work on rebuilding public confidence after emerging from insolvency.

Dr. Lynn Wells has been appointed Laurentian University's new president and vice chancellor. (Supplied)

Currently, Wells is the provost and vice-president academic at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., and she will begin her new role in the north on April 1.

"Wells will provide strategic vision and leadership for all academic, administrative, financial, and service operations, in keeping with the university’s bilingual mandate and tricultural identity," Laurentian said in a news release Tuesday morning.

"Dr. Wells is an experienced leader in postsecondary education, having held a series of senior positions at universities across Canada over the last 20 years."

In an interview with CTV's Ian Campbell, Wells said her first job is to get to know the area.

"I think the first jobs are to get to know the community, to restore trust, to focus on rebuilding the reputation of the institution," she said.

"We know it has a long, proud history ... Confidence is coming back to Laurentian already, the enrolment for this year has come back higher than anticipated which is tremendous news. Universities really rely on their public image to attract students both domestically and internationally, to attract high quality faculty and staff."

While not familiar with the area, Wells said she has relevant work experience.

"At the University of Regina I was involved in a lot of work with francophone units on that campus to create better integration and collaboration," she said. 

"Certainly I have an extensive background in working with Indigenous people at the First Nations University of Canada."

Vernon Cameron, the chair of the school's board of governors, said the selection committee was impressed by her dedication to scholarly excellence and commitment to Indigenous and Francophone cultures.

"She demonstrated an integrity and openness that aligned perfectly with what the Laurentian community identified as what we need in a president," Cameron said.

"Her authentic and strategic leadership style has helped her to realize institutional goals in her past roles by fostering effective communication."

And Tom Fenske of the Laurentian Univefrsity Staff Union said Wells seems very prepared.

"One of the reasons we were very impressed was she had really done her homework," Fenske said.

"She has seemed to have read everything that was out there and she really had a good understanding on what it will take to rebuild that trust."

Wells has a Ph.D. in English and a master of arts in English from Western University, as well as an honours bachelor of arts in both English and French from York University.

She is a tenured professor with 20 years of experience from Brock, MacEwan, First Nations University of Canada (FNUniv) and University of Regina, including leadership roles such as acting dean and vice-president.

"Despite her busy administrative career, she has continued her passion for scholarship, actively teaching and publishing peer-reviewed work and presenting at academic conferences in Canada and England," Laurentian said.

"She is a highly regarded scholar, having authored multiple articles on contemporary British fiction as well two books, the most recent of which is on the prominent writer Ian McEwan, on whom she is an internationally recognized expert."

As a long-time francophone education advocate, Wells said she is committed to advancing the university's bilingual mission.

"As a descendant of settlers who had the opportunity to learn from First Nations and Métis people through my work at FNUniv, I hold genuine passion for both Francophone and Indigenous cultures that have helped me connect with Laurentian’s unique mission to meet the needs of the people of the north and the communities served by the university," she is quoted as saying in the news release.

"I am honoured to be part of Laurentian’s future."

Dr. Sheila Embleton will continue to serve as the current interim president for the next four months.

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