Quest’s New Chancellor Named

Mr. Peter Webster, Chairman of the R. Howard Webster Foundation, was invested as Quest University Canada’s next Chancellor during the Convocation ceremony on September 2. As Chair of one of Canada’s pre-eminent family foundations, Peter Webster has cultivated a deep understanding of philanthropy with a keen eye toward social innovation. The stated mission of the R. Howard Webster Foundation is to make grants to outstanding Canadian charitable organizations offering unique and inspiring programs or projects for the benefit, improvement, and development of Canadian society. In that capacity, the Foundation made an inspirational grant during Quest’s founding era toward the establishment of the University’s library collection. According to Quest’s Board Chair Mary Jo Larson, Mr. Webster “has been a friend and supporter of the University since its inception and has followed us with keen interest throughout our first decade.”

In his younger years, Mr. Webster was involved in athletics, managing Canada’s National Alpine Ski Team, directing the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, and serving as Deputy Team General Manager for the Canadian Olympic Association. More recently, he was a member of the successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic Bid Corporation. Throughout his career in philanthropic work, Mr. Webster has made a sustained impact in the areas of education, health sciences, athletics, arts, and culture. “Most of my work is dedicated to helping youth,” he says. “My hope is that I can help to provide young people today with opportunities that they might not otherwise have.”

Chancellor Webster’s first act of office was to install Dr. George Iwama as President of Quest University Canada. The primary duty of the Chancellor is to confer the interdisciplinary B.A. & Sc. degree upon Quest’s graduates. The University proudly welcomes Peter Webster as a friend of our innovative educational mission and our next Chancellor.

Quest’s New President Dr. George Iwama

August 25, 2017

The Board of Governors of Quest University Canada is proud to announce that Dr. George Iwama has been appointed the University’s next President.

Quest is the national and global leader of a distinct philosophy of inquiry-based education, and is committed to continuing to innovate and share its work.

When we started our search for a new President, we set out to find someone who would:

  • Champion Quest’s mission, vision, and values;
  • Continue to strengthen, defend, and renew Quest’s pedagogical approach;
  • Recruit and support a truly distinctive student body;
  • Recruit and support world-class teacher-scholars;
  • Ensure a sustainable business model; and
  • Serve as a compelling and effective advocate for Quest as its leading external ambassador.

We strongly believe Dr. Iwama is an outstanding candidate, and we are excited about adding his experience and leadership to Quest University Canada.

Dr. Iwama will be a critical part of helping our University tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities that lie ahead by continuing to develop and champion the vision of Quest as a place for innovation in teaching and learning.

We look forward to hosting a social welcome event where students, staff, and community members can meet and get to know our new President this fall – stay tuned for details. For more information on Dr. Iwama, please visit the Incoming President webpage.

With appreciation,
Mary Jo Larson
Chair, Board of Governors
Quest University Canada


Newsletter July 2017

Interim President / JUN 2, 2017

Dear All,

I have immersed myself for the last three weeks in listening to and learning from the extended Quest community: students, staff, faculty, alumni, families, and friends. It has been a privilege to see and hear your love for Quest, your commitment to our education and community, and your visions for our future.

The timeline for my Interim Presidency runs through the coming 2017-2018 academic year into next summer. During this time, the Board will be conducting the search process for our next President, whom we hope to welcome in the summer of 2018. During this period, I will be focusing on a number of shorter-term and longer-term goals to provide both stewardship in the present, and leadership into the future, in ways that actively build on Quest’s vision, mission, and values. Below I will outline three initial goals that I have begun to work on now.


1. Transition Planning

Planning the transition to our next President is an exciting opportunity and focus for the coming year. I will be working to establish aTransition Team that will oversee the design and implementation of a Transition Plan. An effective Transition Team holds the essential responsibility of reaching out to and representing the many stakeholders in the larger Quest community. The outcome of an effective Transition Plan is a community that has devoted time and effort to directed reflection and growth, and offers a supportive and welcoming foundation to help launch the new President and future strategic initiatives.

The main features of this plan include a timeline, a briefing book, event planning, and relationship development and information transfer between the outgoing and the incoming Presidents. The Transition Timeline is tightly tied to the search timeline (more on this below). ATransition Briefing Book includes a summary of the university’s history, values, mission, and strategic plans; external and internal reviews of our capacities, strengths, and areas for growth; and a comprehensive map of the extensive network of Quest’s many partners and supporters. Transition Events include opportunities to celebrate the successes of the past, and welcome the new President and the future. Over the summer, I will be focusing on forming and working with the Transition Team to outline the timeframe and milestones for the year, and provide regular updates.

The Board of Governors has provided this update on the Presidential search process:

The Board will be seeking general comments from the different Quest communities about the search process through June 30.During that time, we will schedule a meeting with those involved in the prior presidential search to discuss lessons learned, and any recommendations for the Board for the new search. Faculty, alumni, students, or parents who would also like to make suggestions to the Board about the search process are invited to provide them during this time. The Board would especially appreciate input that results from group discussions that represent a larger consensus, but will also take individual emails or letters. If a group would like to meet with a Board representative, we will make our best efforts to arrange that. We would especially appreciate comments on whether an open process, where the finalist(s) would openly visit campus before final selection, would be valued. The Board was advised against an open process last time, but is willing to investigate again the possibility of an open process if it is important to the broader Quest community. After the Board receives and reviews the community input, the search plan will be completed and the search committee established. The target date for the final plan and search committee appointment is July 31. The entire process is expected to take approximately a year to complete. We will provide specific opportunities for communication as we move forward.

For updates on Transition Planning and the Presidential search, please check the Interim President’s webpage.


2. Alumni Network Development

Quest is fortunate to have a growing network of vibrant alumni. A group of local alumni met with me recently on campus (mostly in person; with some via video-conference) for a lively discussion of how to structure and grow their network and capacity. The main areas they will be focusing on are (1) designing their leadership and organizational structure and their communication routes, (2) developing and populating a contact- and information-sharing network, (3) planning social and personal/professional development events, and (4) planning fundraising initiatives. Alumni, family, and friends of Quest can look forward to hearing more from the alumni, in partnership with Quest’s Office of Alumni and Development, as they proceed.


3. 10th Anniversary Celebrations

Quest has nearly reached the end of its 10th year! As we look forward to our second decade, we will take the opportunity to reflect on the tremendous growth and successes of our first ten years. Part of that reflection includes the recognition of all of the individuals and groups that have made Quest the extraordinary place that it is today. We are planning a year of celebrations in honour of our 10th Anniversary to say thank you to all of the people who have contributed to the success of our innovative community of learners. The celebrations will occur throughout the year and include Convocation, Family Weekend, Keystone Presentations, and other University events. Quest’s Office of Alumni and Development will be coordinating these activities and will welcome your input. We will invite alumni, parents, friends of the University, and members of the Squamish community to campus to take part in these celebrations. Please check out our events calendar to learn more details throughout the year, and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected.

Transition planning, alumni network development, and 10th anniversary celebrations are all intensive goals for the coming year through which we will celebrate our past accomplishments, reflect on and frame our present, and build strong support for the future. The coming year will of course bring our usual excitement of Cornerstone activities, Question development, and Keystone scholarship, with a calendar full of intensive, challenging, and creative courses and co-curricular events.

Today is my fourth weekly update since beginning in my new role. For the remainder of the summer, we will resume the alternating monthly schedule of a Quest Newsletter, and a letter from the Office of the President. You can look forward to further news and updates through those media.


Best Wishes,

Marjorie Wonham, PhD
Interim President
Quest University Canada

Interim President / MAY 26, 2017

Dear All,

I wish to share this update to let the Quest community know about recent visitors to our campus and two upcoming events. As before, I have had a very busy meeting schedule as summer research and teaching are off to a great start.

Site Visits From Universities interested in the Block Plan

Two teams of visitors were recently on campus for multiple-day meetings with faculty, staff, and students to gather information about implementing the block plan for academic study. The teams came from the University of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia and the Élizabeth-Bruyère School of Social Innovation at St. Paul University in Ottawa, Ontario to learn more about our revolutionary educational model. We should be very proud that Quest is being sought out as a representative of innovation and cutting-edge pedagogy in higher education. Both universities were particularly interested in the connectedness that is engendered by the block plan, experiential learning, and community partnerships. Many thanks to the faculty and staff who took time out of their busy schedules to share the challenges and opportunities of the block program and other features of our unique pedagogy. Thank you for welcoming these visitors on campus, and spending the time with them to learn about their goals and offer insight on Quest’s revolutionary model.

Alumni Event

Following on the alumni webinar I conducted last week with Trevor Mannion, Leslie de Bie and Trevor are hosting an alumni event this coming Tuesday, May 30, to bring alumni to campus and reconnect. This event is part of an ongoing effort to draw on the strengths of our alumni network and recognize the importance of this growing part of our community. It is clear that the alumni are passionate about their alma mater and are ready to embrace their role as stewards of the University, even though they are still a relatively young group.


Beakerhead Science Storytelling Workshops

Jay Ingram and Mary Anne Moser will be offering an exciting professional development opportunity, especially for those, like myself, who are interested in science communication. They are hosting a multi-day workshop on campus May 31st – June 3rd. This is an event that is near and dear to my heart because I was able to participate in the workshop during its first form as the Banff Science Communication Program. In addition, Founding Tutor Annie Prud’homme-Généreux and Life Sciences Tutor Negar Elmieh have also participated in the past. Thanks to the efforts of Negar and Leslie de Bie, two Quest faculty members will be able to attend the entire workshop at no cost.

Warm wishes,

On May 11, 2017 the Quest community had an opportunity to meet with their new Chancellor, Dr. George Iwama.  Students, staff, and faculty, who were on campus for the start of summer teaching and research, gathered around the fireplace in the Library Atrium to listen to Chancellor Iwama speak about his experiences in higher education, the role of the Chancellor and Board in university governance, and his advice as Quest University Canada moves forward.

Above all else, Chancellor Iwama emphasized that as he walked through the halls and classrooms at Quest, he saw something special happening here.  He praised the success of Quest University Canada as “a jewel of higher education” being the single, independent, non-profit university among great public universities in BC like the University of Northern British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of British Columbia.

He described the Chancellor’s role as largely honorary beyond the conferral of degrees at graduation, but stated that he would love to do more to promote the University, the strength of our field programs, and the energy that the students bring.  He reiterated that the strength of Quest comes from the fact that it is a bold idea.  The block plan and revolutionary curriculum, the creative scholarly research, and the spirit of inquiry at Quest reminded him of “a handful of great liberal arts universities in America” like Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin, or Acadia University in Canada.

Regarding the role of the Board, Chancellor Iwama noted that university boards in general are interesting because members often come from the business world and are interested in financial discussions, but also have to defend the academic values and pedagogical principles of the institution.  He stated that he was impressed with the commitment of the Board of Governors to this University.  Chancellor Iwama has only attended one Board meeting so far, but genuinely felt that the Board understood and supported Quest’s unique approach. He mentioned that the Board’s agenda was very full and tied to events on the calendar like graduation and government reporting demands.  He stated the importance of getting to know the members of the Board as people who believe in the University’s mission and he encouraged a diversity of voices on the Board.

In reference to university transitions, Chancellor Iwama talked about the clash between idealism and realism.  He noted, “Let’s talk about what we want, not about limitations.  Time may be the real resource that is needed.  In the end it boils down to finding the resources, once you know what you want… This place is set on an innovative, exciting course.  There is no question that where Quest wants to go is a good direction.”

Interim President / MAY 19, 2017

Dear All,

This is a brief update to fill you in on some of the major things I’ve been up to in the past week, and give you some idea what’s next.


First, I have been starting to re-connect with members of the campus community. It’s great to see everyone again. I am inspired by the energy and commitment I’ve seen and heard in the updates from individual staff, faculty, and students. I’m looking forward to connecting with all of you over the coming weeks.

Block plan for Interim Presidents

Our students and tutors know how intensive the block plan can be, immersing yourself in a single subject for three and a half weeks of study and experiential learning. This has been week one of the Interim President block for me and I am learning at an exponential rate. The experience is challenging, exciting, and affirmative as I learn about all of the great work done daily here at Quest.

Community Update and Alumni Webinar

Student Affairs hosted a fireside chat/Community Update to check in with students here on campus for summer blocks and research. There was a good conversation about the students’ central role in creating our vibrant and engaged Quest communities. I also hosted a webinar with Trevor Mannion, Admissions counselor and alumnus, to reconnect with alumni and answer any questions about the Presidential transition. It was a great experience to talk with alumni about their passion and vision for Quest. Alumni are a powerful an ever-growing part of our community with tremendous energy and expertise to offer as they continue to care for and steward Quest into the future. Some alumni have contacted Trevor about pitching in for fall recruitment and every one can contribute by continuing to share your stories of success in your careers or graduate education. I am particularly enthusiastic about developing and strengthening our alumni network, and look forward to continuing this conversation in an upcoming meeting that will be announced in the near future.

Welcoming Chancellor George Iwama

I was very pleased to welcome Chancellor Iwama back to campus for a fireside chat with current students, staff, and faculty. He shared his experiences with university transitions and discussed his role as Chancellor. Most importantly, Chancellor Iwama shared his enthusiasm for Quest and his belief in the vital importance of our revolutionary educational model.

In the coming week, I will give an update on site visits from Victoria University (Melbourne) and the School for Social Innovation (Ottawa). These higher education institutions are looking to the success of Quest and our students as leaders in higher education innovation.

Warm wishes,

Greeting from the Board of Governors

Hello from the Board of Governors of Quest University Canada,

We are grateful for all the questions and comments you have sent us directly and through the University’s communication channels, including social media and in-person meetings with the President.

Your messages convey to us the passion and care for Quest that we all share. The Board greatly appreciates your desire to understand and help the University. We share those same values and goals, which is why we have chosen to serve on the Board of Governors.

We understand you have questions about Board responsibilities, structure, membership, our vision for Quest, and the financial plan for the University. We would like to provide thoughtful and thorough responses to all these questions in a series of communications. You can expect to hear from us via e-mail and regular updates on the President’s webpage. In the meantime, to introduce ourselves, here are our bios.

We look forward to communicating with you again soon.

The Board of Governors
Quest University Canada

It is a wonderful honour for me to serve Quest University Canada in the role of Chancellor. It was my pleasure to spend some time on campus last week, speaking to a group by the fireside in the atrium and having lunch with some faculty members. I have been impressed with the warm hospitality I’ve received each time I have visited Quest.

Many of you were curious about the role of Chancellor. Most are unclear about the detailed roles of the administrators that are responsible for leading the institution. The Chancellor is the titular head of the University. The only functional role of the Chancellor is to confer the degrees to the graduates. This is the case in Canadian and British universities. In the United States, the title is sometimes given to the functional head, or chief executive – equivalent to our president. In many universities, the Chancellor is invited or voted on to the Board of Governors and the academic governing body. This would be the Senate or in the case of Quest University, the Academic Council. I have yet to join the Board of Governors at Quest.

The reason for jumping at the chance to join Quest University Canada as Chancellor was just that, joining this wonderful university. Quest is unique in the world of postsecondary education in Canada. David Strangway’s vision to create a private, not-for-profit, secular university using the block format for its pedagogical framework was brilliant. Quest University remains fresh and bold in the Canadian academy. When I asked David Strangway about who was being bold enough to come to study and work at this new university? His reply was “George, you’d be surprised at the number of brilliant young people who are willing to join us, to try something new and exciting. “

So, I’d like to thank you, each of you, in welcoming me as Chancellor of our University. We have a wonderful Interim President and a committed Board of Governors. I know personally, that the Ministry of Advanced Education recognizes the special nature of Quest University Canada and wishes to see us succeed. This is a special opportunity for the strength of each of you, and us collectively, to shine. I am committed to do everything I can towards the successful recruitment of a new President, to work with the Interim President in whatever way I can, and to work with the Board of Governors. This is our university, with all its challenges as well as its promise and potential. Thank you for opening your arms and welcoming me.

George Iwama
17 May 2017

Dear Quest Community,

Hello, and let me introduce myself as Interim President for those of you who haven’t had the opportunity to get to know me yet.  My name is Marjorie Wonham and I’ve taught here at Quest for six years as a Life Sciences Tutor. My research is on biological invasions and marine biology, using empirical and mathematical models.  When I got the opportunity to work at Quest, I was absolutely excited because of the interdisciplinary mission of the university.  I am happy to be back on campus and welcome the opportunity to serve the Quest community as Interim President, as the search for our next President begins.

My apologies for the delay in sending this letter as I get up to speed in my new role. I have just returned from sabbatical in Argentina and Chile and have had to hit the ground running.  Quest is an independent, interdisciplinary university that is unique in Canadian higher education because of our commitment to exemplify the future of undergraduate education. We think differently and more importantly we do things differently.  We ask students, faculty, and staff to continually reinvent ourselves and to perpetually revolutionize our curriculum in pursuit of innovation and excellence in undergraduate learning.

The recent transition in leadership is part of this process as we move forward into the next decade and position ourselves on the cutting edge of higher education in North America. Finding the right President to move Quest into the future is a significant task and of utmost importance to the Board as they initiate a search for Quest University Canada’s next President. We are fortunate to have Chancellor George Iwama share his expert perspectives on the evolving landscape of international and Canadian higher education and offer sagacious advice based on his extensive experience at the highest levels of university administration.

In the next two weeks I will be conducting briefings and meetings with all of the constituent groups in the Quest community. An Interim President webpage will update everyone about my progress in this new role, as I work to lead the Quest community in our transformative academic mission and promote Quest’s revolutionary educational model. In the meantime, we continue with our hands-on, experiential teaching and active research this summer and into the next academic year, crossing disciplinary boundaries and finding creative answers in the collaborative way that only happens here at Quest.

An example of the tremendous potential for academic collaboration that we value so highly is the award-winning paper on motivational values and conservation success in and around protected areas co-authored by second year Quest student Elijah Cetas and Social Sciences Tutor Maï Yasué.  Elijah received support as a Quest Summer Fellow and researched over 200 articles to complete the project with Maï as his mentor.  He was awarded the Society for Conservation Biology’s Rising Star Award for the best student-led paper published in the journal Conservation Biology, beating out the work of Master’s and Ph.D. students in the competition.  This is a testament to the close faculty-student working relationships at Quest and the path-breaking, interdisciplinary research that happens here because we choose to be different from other universities.

I look forward to sharing my sabbatical research about marine biology in Pablo Neruda’s poetry and the relationships among penguins, octopuses, whales, and sheep in Patagonia, but that might have to wait for now because I have quite a bit to do in the interim.  Please keep up the hard work and stay tuned for more information about the transition.


May 8, 2017

The Chair of the Board of Governors of Quest University Canada today confirms that Dr. Peter Englert is no longer the President and Vice Chancellor of the University. The Board also eliminated the Executive Vice President position and role. Dr. I-Chant Chiang will return to her full-time role as a faculty member.

The Board has appointed Dr. Marjorie Wonham as Interim President of the University. Wonham has been a Professor of Life Sciences and faculty member at Quest University Canada for more than six years, having served on Quest’s Academic Council, Diversity and Equity Committee and Faculty Performance Review Committee during her time with the University. An executive search for a new, permanent president will be initiated in the coming weeks.

Board Chair Mary Jo Larson said, “The Board of Governors has confidence in Professor Wonham, to provide strong leadership for the University’s Administration while a thorough search for a new President is undertaken.”

The Board has also created a Finance and Audit Committee and appointed David Fujimagari as Treasurer. The Finance and Audit Committee includes the Treasurer, Claude Rinfret, and Michael Hutchison.

The Board of Governors is committed to ensuring that Quest University Canada maintains its position and reputation as one of the top ranked undergraduate university programs in North America by:

• Continuing to champion its revolutionary educational model, which sparks personal growth, intellectual development, and courage to tackle the challenges of the 21st century.

• Supporting faculty and students in their collaborative exploration of the world’s complexities.

• Enhancing Quest University Canada’s connection to its community partners.

Quest University Canada has enjoyed ten years of success and growth. Founded in 2007 with 30 students, Quest’s unique academic model and visionary approach has led to significant growth over the decade. Year-to-date financial reports for Quest are the best they have been in the history of the University.

Interim President, Professor Wonham, will provide regular updates to communicate and engage with the University community over the coming months.

Mary Jo Larson,
Chair, Board of Governors
Quest University Canada



For more information, please contact:
Alejandro Castano-Isaza