UPDATED: Dawn Russell takes leave as STU president, vice-chancellor

    Dawn Russell has served as St. Thomas University's president and vice-chancellor since 2011. (Submitted: Jeffrey Carleton)

    St. Thomas University announced Tuesday morning that Dawn Russell, who made history as its first female president and vice-chancellor, has taken an administrative leave of absence effective Monday.

    In an email sent to students, Board of Directors Chair Peter Forestell said Kim Fenwick, STU’s vice president of academic and research, will become the acting president and vice-chancellor.

    “With almost three decades of experience as professor, departmental chair, dean and vice-president, and extensive knowledge of our operations, Kim is well positioned to provide leadership in the coming months,” said Forestell in the email.

    The email did not outline the reason behind her leave. Russell, who is set to retire from her role on June 30, 2023, has served as STU’s president and vice-chancellor since 2011.

    Prior to her appointment, Russell was dean of the faculty of law, the Purdy Crawford Chair in Business Law and associate professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax. She also graduated from STU with a bachelor of arts degree in 1977.

    Forestell said there is great respect and affection for Russell.

    “We have great gratitude for Dawn’s service to STU during her term as President and Vice-Chancellor, and we look forward to celebrating her accomplishments in the future,” said Forestell in the email.

    Forestell said the search committee’s selection process for a new president and vice chancellor remains on schedule. He said two short-listed candidates, whose names have yet to be released, will participate in public, on-campus presentations on Dec. 5 and 6.