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End of an era

Iris Petten ends three terms as Board of Regents chair

Campus and Community

By Memorial University

On Feb. 14, Cathy Duke assumed the role of interim chair of the Board of Regents as Iris Petten concluded her nine years as chair.

Dr. Timmons thanked Ms. Petten for her incredible commitment to Memorial.

“Iris Petten has been a tremendous support to me personally and professionally since I came to Memorial,” said Dr. Timmons. “Her door was always open, and her decisions and advice were always sound. I can’t thank her enough for what she has done to help build our university over the past nine years. We all benefited from her knowledge and expertise. She will be missed.”

Ms. Petten was appointed chair in February 2013, making her the second-longest serving Board of Regents chair.

“I felt it was important to give back to a place that gave so much to me and who I became.” — Iris Petten

In looking back at that appointment, Ms. Petten said, “In my book of life, taking on the role of board chair in 2013 was a new chapter. I felt it was important to give back to a place that gave so much to me and who I became.”

‘So proud’

She holds a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of vocational education from Memorial University,

Ms. Petten acknowledged the many volunteers she worked with on the board.

“Every member I worked with showed a professionalism and deep understanding of our oversight role at Memorial,” she said. “I cannot stress enough their commitment to the board and to Memorial. And I want to personally thank everyone who gave 110 per cent over the years.

“I am so proud to have been a part of this group of dedicated volunteers – regents who have a vision and determination to make our university the very best it can be,” she continued. “Mother Teresa said, ‘You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. But together we can do great things.’ And I think we did.”

She also expressed her confidence in the university going forward.

“I’m fairly confident the conclusion of my role as board chair isn’t the end of my involvement with Memorial. I am confident in the strong, capable leadership of Dr. Timmons and her leadership team and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

Interim chair

In accordance with section 22(4) of the Memorial University Act, in case of the absence or disability of the chair, or in the case of there being a vacancy in the office of chair, the vice-chair shall possess the powers and perform the duties concerning the office of chair.

Cathy Duke wears a black blazer and silver jewellery.
Cathy Duke
Photo: Submitted

President Timmons took the opportunity welcome Ms. Duke to her new role.

“I have every confidence that Cathy Duke will provide strong leadership as she assumes the role of interim chair,” said Dr. Timmons. “I look forward to working with her and the other members as we embrace the challenges and opportunities that running a university demands.”

Ms. Duke is an elected alumni representative and has been on the board since 2017.

“I have always been a very proud Memorial University graduate and am now pleased to have the opportunity to work with the board and the president to advance the university’s new strategic plan, and to embrace the many opportunities that will benefit, not only our students, but our community at large,” she said.

Cathy Duke

Ms. Duke is chief executive officer of Destination St. John’s, a position she has held for the last 11 years.

Her previous employment experience includes working as a deputy minister with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, president of Sports Villas Resort (Terra Nova Golf Resort and Clarenville Inn), executive director of Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, vice-president of Coastal Associates and Consultants Limited and executive director of the Economic Recovery Commission.

Current board appointments include vice-chair of the Independent Appointments Commission and board member of St. John’s Sports and Entertainment.

She was formerly a member of the Faculty of Business Advisory Board, board member of the Tourism Association of Canada and the Destination Marketing Association of Canada, vice-chair of the Stella Burry Foundation, board member of the Shorefast Foundation and national executive of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.

Ms. Duke holds a bachelor of social work and master of business administration from Memorial University and has acquired her ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors, Rotman School of Management.

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