Gwendolyn Point will be the new Chancellor of the University of the Fraser Valley, the university announced Monday.
Point will take over from Dr. Brian Minter, who was UFV’s first Chancellor and served two terms stretching from 2008 to 2014. She will be installed as Chancellor at a ceremony in the coming months.
The new Chancellor-elect has a connection to the Fraser Valley that stretches back decades. She started her engagement with what was then Fraser Valley College in the early 1980s when she and her husband Steven (former Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia and now a B.C. provincial court judge) took university-level courses there.
From Fraser Valley College student to member of the University College of the Fraser Valley board of governors, to UFV assistant professor, Point’s career and educational journey has paralleled the development of UFV from college to university. Her experience as Chatelaine of the Province of British Columbia — the title given to the spouse of the Lieutenant Governor — will serve her well when performing the ceremonial aspects of the UFV Chancellor role.
The Chancellor is the ceremonial head of the University of the Fraser Valley and serves as a member of the Board of Governors and the Senate. Dr. Point will also preside over Convocation conferring UFV degrees, diplomas, and certificates, and serve as an ambassador for UFV at major events.
The Chancellor is appointed by the UFV Board of Governors upon the recommendation of the Alumni Association and consultation with the UFV Senate.
“The UFV Board of Governors is delighted to welcome Dr. Gwen Point as UFV’s next Chancellor,” said UFV Board Chair Barry Delaney. “Dr. Point has been part of UFV since our early days as Fraser Valley College. She knows us well and epitomizes our commitment to quality education, student success and regional development. We are extremely fortunate to have Gwen serve as UFV’s next Chancellor.”
“I am very pleased to be working with Dr. Point,” said UFV President and Vice-Chancellor Mark Evered. “She brings a unique balance of community and university experience, leadership and understanding. She has served our University as a teacher, a scholar, an administrator, and a board member, has held a number of offices in government, including the senior office of Chatelaine, and is a passionate leader, mentor, and role model in our community. She will be an outstanding addition to UFV.”
Currently, Point is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at UFV, and teaches First Nations Studies courses, including Stó:lō Nation Development, and Stó:lō Communications and World View. She will be resigning her position as a faculty member at UFV in order to take on the voluntary Chancellor role.
She holds a Bachelor of Education degree from UBC, a post-baccalaureate diploma from SFU, and a Master of Education degree from the University of Portland, and is near completion of a doctorate in education from SFU. She also holds an honorary Doctor of Education degree from the University of Victoria.
Point brings extensive teaching and educational leadership experience, from elementary to postsecondary, to her new role, as well as extensive government experience from her work with provincial ministries and her service as Chatelaine of B.C.
She is a respected Stó:lō leader, mentor, and cultural advisor. She has contributed her cultural knowledge and experience to numerous books, conferences, workshops and communities, often as an invited keynote contributor.
She has also received numerous prestigious awards over the course of her career.
“It is a real honour to be asked and a privilege to take on this role,” said Point, a member of the Skowkale First Nation who lives in Chilliwack. “I started my post-secondary education here and I was very grateful for the access it provided at the time. It was wonderful to not have to leave home to get an education. It was a very special experience when I returned here to teach full time in 2005. Now becoming Chancellor and playing a leadership role at UFV sends a message that dreams do come true and good things do happen.”
She said that she will miss teaching and the opportunity it provided to pass on knowledge about Stó:lō culture and history to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students.
“My grandmother told me that what you know has no value. It’s like sand in your hand unless you pass it on to others. I know that teaching the community about the Stó:lō people has made a difference and I really believe that it is an act of reconciliation. It is helping to create a better understanding of recent history. Every class, I would see a shift and transformation in the students.”
Point added that becoming Chancellor will allow her to continue to provide leadership and mentorship to young people.
“My elders said that your greatest teaching method is one of example. You can’t do anything directly about others’ choices but you can help by setting an example. I feel blessed to have the opportunity.”
The ceremonial aspects of her Chancellor role, which will include presiding over Convocation and appearing at other special events, will be inspired both by her time as Chatelaine of B.C. and her leadership role in the Stó:lō community.
“Ceremony plays a very important role in our community. It is a way of acknowledging and honouring both the person and everyone they are connected to. If you stand up to receive an honour it also lifts up your family and community.”
When not busy with their professional or community roles, Gwen and her husband Steven enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren.
Outgoing Chancellor Brian Minter also has a strong connection to the University of the Fraser Valley. He was named UFV’s first Chancellor when UFV received university status in 2008. In addition to serving as UFV’s first Chancellor from 2008 to the present, he taught night school courses in horticulture in the 1980s and was chair of the Board of Governors when Fraser Valley College was transformed into a degree-granting university college in 1991. He is a donor to UFV and hands-on supporter of the UFV agriculture program. Minter was granted an honorary Doctor of Technology degree from UFV (then UCFV) in 2001.
“The UFV Board of Governors offers heartfelt thanks to our outgoing Chancellor, Dr. Brian Minter,” said Delaney. “His decades of service to the university as teacher, board member, donor, advocate, and Chancellor have in no small way shaped UFV into the outstanding university it is today.”
“It was an honour to work with Chancellor Minter,” said Evered. “His passion and dedication to UFV has created an outstanding legacy of excellence and community connection. I have learned a great deal from Brian, and I am forever grateful for his mentorship, guidance, and friendship throughout my tenure as UFV president.”
“It has been an absolute privilege to work with our president, deans, management team, board senate, instructors, staff, and especially our students over the past six years as Chancellor,” said Minter. “The values and culture of UFV, as well as its mission to become one of the best undergraduate universities in Canada, make UFV a very special place and one with an amazing future.
“This university has touched many lives and provided opportunities for so many people in the Fraser Valley, and indeed around the world. The education they have received at our university has added incredible value not only to their future prospects but also to our communities and our country. The success of our students will be UFV’s ongoing legacy, and I’m so appreciative of having played a small part in this unique journey.
“I will always be a strong supporter of UFV in any way I can. The appointment of Gwen Point as our new chancellor is brilliant, and we will all benefit greatly from this new relationship. I wish her and everyone at UFV continued success.”