In an April 1, 2020 announcement, Thomas Chase BA(Hons)’79 was officially named the University of Regina’s interim president. Chase has a nearly 40-year relationship with the University, beginning as a student. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (High Honours) in English in 1979. In 1984, he earned a PhD from Glasgow University in Scotland, where he held a doctoral fellowship in the Department of English Language. He has served in various academic and administrative positions at the University of Regina, including coordinator of the Linguistics Program, founding director of the Centre for Academic Technologies, associate dean (Research and Graduate) of the Faculty of Arts and, for four years, dean of the Faculty of Arts. Most recently, he served as provost and vice-president (Academic), having been appointed on July 1, 2011.
- How would you characterize your leadership style?
- Consultative. I listen very carefully to a wide range of people in order to draw on the deep reserves of knowledge, experience and wisdom that the University campus possesses.
- How do you see Canada’s post-secondary sector evolving over the next 10 years?
- I believe the participation rate is going to continue to rise. We have as large a percentage of the population going to university now as went to high school in the years after World War II. I think the presence of international students on Canadian campuses will also increase in coming years.
- What are the main lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic so far?
- How incredibly well the University community came together on very short notice and moved the entire course inventory to fully remote delivery in the space of a week. This is the largest change management process this campus has seen in its 50-year history. Thanks to the hard work of faculty and staff, it was done. I’m very proud of that.
- What do you see as the long-term repercussions of COVID-19?
- I think there will be a new normal. I think the way we have interacted will change quite dramatically. I think the handshake is probably now a thing of the past.
- You are an organist. What drew you to the instrument?
- Very simply, the low bass notes. As a young child I was fascinated by that sound. It’s what first hooked me on the instrument. My parents bought me several records by the great French organist Marcel Dupré, recorded in Paris. I was overcome by the sound of those mighty instruments in those resonant acoustics.
- Where was your most memorable performance?
- It was December 2002 in Sao Paulo, Brazil in front of about 1,000 people, the largest audience I ever performed for.
- What drew you to university administration?
- A phone call from the then provost Kathy Heinrich asking me to take on the formation of the Centre for Academic Technologies. That’s what started me in university administration. I enjoy the opportunity to make change and to help the institution thrive and grow. One of the aspects of the job I enjoy the most is hiring highly qualified new faculty and deans and administrators.
- What do you like to do away from work?
- I love to cycle, walk, listen to music, and read. On a modest scale, I’m just learning how to garden. I’ve got a long way to go!
- Do you miss the classroom?
- Yes, very much. I love the classroom and teaching and the contact with students who are some of the most wonderful people on the planet.