Dr. Philip Steenkamp, president of Royal Roads University, is using the original commandant’s desk from the days the Colowood institution was a militray college. (Rick Stiebel/News staff)

Collaboration key for new president at Royal Roads University

Steenkamp brings UBC background to new role

Rick Stiebel/News staff

Communication and collaboration comprise key components in the career path of Royal Roads University’s new president.

Dr. Philip Steenkamp, who was appointed to the positions of president and vice-chancellor at RRU on June 18, 2018, commenced a five-year term on Jan. 1, with an extensive background in the public service and the post-secondary sector. His resume includes serving as vice-president at the University of British Columbia and at Simon Fraser University, as well as extensive experience in senior leadership positions with governments in B.C. and Ontario, where his roles included aboriginal affairs, tourism, culture and the arts, economic and skills development, and advanced education.

READ MORE: Royal Roads appoints new president, vice-chancellor

“You don’t get anything done in government if you don’t collaborate,” Steenkamp noted during an interview with the News Gazette. “Government departments aren’t silos. The only way to get things done is to reach out to different departments and agencies. More importantly, is reaching outside of government to the community and stakeholders to understand their issues and views to get a sense of what their needs are,” Steenkamp said.

“One key priority is to think about how to respond to the needs of families on the West Shore. There’s a lot of pride in Royal Roads, but there’s also a sense that we’re behind a wall. We want to be known as an institution that comes out beyond the castle and into the community.”

High school graduation rates on the West Shore have increased during the past few years, which Steenkamp was quick to credit to the efforts of the Sooke School District. Post-secondary rates are still lower than the provincial average, he noted, something he attributes to the lack of access to post-secondary education in an area experiencing rapid population growth. That’s exacerbated by the transportation issues students face getting to and from existing institutions in the region, he added.

“Discussions have begun to address that. I’d like to focus on whether there is an opportunity for a new campus elsewhere on the West Shore. We would like Royal Roads to be part of that and would like to work with UVic and Camosun on that. We all offer different things, and together we could really respond to the needs of families on the West Shore. Eliminating the commute would be welcomed by students.”

It would also spare the expense of accommodations for those who prefer to live at home with their families. “What that takes is a matter of discussion and negotiation, but it’s a top priority for me.”

READ MORE: Post-secondary programs considered for Langford

RRU chancellor Kathleen Birney said in a statement that she is looking forward to working with Steenkamp. “I am delighted to welcome Dr. Steenkamp, who brings to Royal Roads such deep experience in education and across sectors. His depth of understanding of the post-secondary landscape is second to none, and his track record as a galvanizing leader is inspiring,” Birney said.

Another central focus for Steenkamp at RRU is to foster an appreciation for the diverse historical background of Royal Roads. “I have a deep appreciation of the Indigenous history of the site, and I’m deeply committed to working with the Indigenous community as we plot the future of this university.”

READ MORE: Royal Roads University opens state-of-the-art facility

The site’s history as the Dunsmuir’s property and as a military college is important as well to Steenkamp, who holds a PhD and master’s degree in history from Queen’s University, in addition to a bachelor of arts from the University of Natal, Durban.

That love of history is reflected in his request to have the original commandant’s desk from the days when Royal Roads was a military college moved onto his office in the Dunsmuir castle.

rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Volunteer needed to empty dog poop can in Saanich Park

Local volunteers do the work of irresponsible dog owners at Mount Doug

Sexual assault charge dropped against from CFB Esquimalt member

Navy Lt. Ronald Clancy was charged with two counts of sexual assault in August 2018

Vancouver Island overdue for the big one, can also expect mega-thrust tsunami

The last big earthquake was 70 years ago in Courtenay

Sentence handed down for sex assaults committed more than 30 years ago

Man in his 80s will serve a conditional sentence in the community

BC Ferries considers passenger only ferry between West Shore and Victoria

Royal Bay, Esquimalt and Ship Point considered as part of study into new route

VIDEO: RCMP ask kids to help name soon-to-be police dogs

13 German shepherd puppies will be born this year

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Watchdog called after man who yelled racial slurs at B.C. vigil hurt during arrest

BC RCMP say man was ‘acting suspiciously’ at prayer vigil for victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

NDP’s Jagmeet Singh steps into the House of Commons, making history

Burnaby South MP becomes first visible minority to lead a federal party in the House of Commons

Reeling Port Alice about to lose its only bank

Scotiabank branch closure follows latest mill setback, bad for business and the elderly

Most Read