“Dr. DeGagné has been an exceptional leader and has left a permanent mark on the university and broader community especially for his tireless work in the area of Indigenous education,” said Board Chair, Tom Palangio.
DeGagné became President and Vice-Chancellor of Nipissing in 2013 and was one of the first Indigenous presidents of a public university.
He served as the Executive Director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation from 1998-2012, and during that time, obtained a PhD in Indigenous Education from Michigan State University.
While President of Nipissing, DeGagné dedicated much of his life to Indigenous issues and ensuring Nipissing University took a leading role in the Indigenization of the post-secondary education sector according to a Nipissing news release. During his tenure, the University experienced growth in both its graduate and undergraduate programs as well as a 70 per cent increase in research funding.
DeGagné is a champion for Nipissing University Athletics, and under his leadership, Nipissing added men’s and women’s basketball and rowing programs, made key enhancements to the men's lacrosse program, and dropped the puck on the inaugural women's hockey season. DeGagné's time is also highlighted by the opening of Nipissing’s new turf field in the fall of 2019, which has become a key recruitment feature for Nipissing’s soccer and lacrosse programs and a community hub for sports in North Bay. DeGagné is also currently serving as the Board Chair for Ontario University Athletics.
Degagne is also a recipient of the Order of Canada and the Order of Ontario, as well as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.
“Nipissing University is an incredible institution. Its sense of community and commitment to students is second to none and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to play a part in its evolution,” said DeGagné. “Nipissing University and North Bay will always hold a special place in my heart and I will miss the community greatly. At the same time, I’m looking forward to the opportunity and challenge of leading a brand new university in Canada’s far north.”
DeGagné is partway through his second, five-year term and acknowledged that while the decision to step down was not made lightly, the time was right to make the switch.
“Nipissing is at an exciting stage in its history, with a new strategic plan on the horizon that will define the future of the University for the next five years and beyond. It’s a good time for a new leader to take the helm."
The Board will soon begin a search for Nipissing University’s seventh president and has named Cheryl Sutton, Nipissing University’s Vice-President, Finance and Administration, as Interim President effective July 1. Sutton joined the University in 2010 and has served as Vice-President since 2016.
Yukon College will officially become Yukon University in May of this year and DeGagné will assume his duties as inaugural president on July 1.