MUN President Vianne Timmons and CHMR logo.

A recently obtained ATIPP request through Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) reveals a document titled Briefing note for CHMR. MUN’s Manager of Communications, Dave Sorensen, prepared briefing materials for President Vianne Timmons’s interview at CHMR radio.

See document below:

Briefing note

Media interview with student radio station CHMR reporter Steven Finn

Thursday, May 21, 2020, 8:30 a.m.


An introductory interview with the new president, Dr. Vianne Timmons.


Student radio station CHMR broadcasts on the FM dial at 93.5. While it has low listenership among the public, it is the most active of campus student media and has a good following among students.

While I’ve not had an interaction with the reporter Steven Finn, CHMR reporters covering campus events are usually easy to deal with.

Mr. Finn says he will use Squadcast to record the interview. This is a web-based app that will record sound for upload to the station. While there is a video component, it is used only for interaction, not for playback. You will get a link to the interview “room.”

The questions will be similar to what you have answered in other introduction interviews since April 1; what are the challenges facing Memorial, why you came to Memorial during such a challenging time, budget/tuition; why the decision to go to remote in the fall. Given the audience, responses should be student focused.

Key messages


Members of the university community have been incredible in their support of students during this unprecedented time. As well, the students themselves have been stellar in response to the pandemic.

Moreover, Memorial’s expertise has been critical as the province responds to the threat and challenge posed by the spread of COVID-19.


  • Many of our postgraduate medical residents are continuing their education while serving health-care teams on the front lines with regional health authorities throughout the province.
  • Dr. Proton Rahman, associate dean of clinical research in the faculty of medicine, was recruited to head up the province’s medical analytics team, which was responsible for developing the province’s short-term models of Covid-19 spread.
  • Memorial is collaborating with the provincial public health lab test PPE to ensure locally made or re-used face masks meet the rigorous testing criteria to be used safely by health care workers. Units involved are Engineering, Medicine and out Technical Services unit.

Possible questions

Why did you decide to go to remote instruction for fall semester?

  • Decision guided by the principles of safety, mental health and equity.
  • Fall semester will feature a remote teaching and learning environment. In-person, on-campus courses will not resume before January 2021.
  • Early decision was necessary to allow for planning. CITL, our teaching and learning unit, for example, can now start planning now that they know we are going fully remote.

How will Memorial accommodate international and rural students remotely?

  • The principle of equity is crucial.
  • No matter how challenging it may be, we will be supporting students in every way we can to persist through their programs during these uncertain times. We will be offering supports to help prepare new students for the online teaching and learning environment and we will do everything we can to enable student success.
  • Helping students secure summer work and register for courses in order to make sure they have structure to their days and some income.
  • Letting students know they can rely on us to support them when they are in distress.
  • There is a student emergency fund for all students that the community has been generously supporting. The students’ union donated $20,000 and on Thursday, Fortis announced a donation of $35,000. This is helping students through this difficult stretch.

How can you support high school grads heading to university?

  • Looking at programming for students, such as math placement tests, bridging courses and courses that allow students to explore areas they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to study in high school  – e.g. criminology, folk arts, etc. We want to give new students the chance to explore potential career paths.
  • We will be offering preparatory courses, courses to introduce new students to university life and now and to online line.

Are you concerned about enrollment because of COVID?

  • Enrolment for spring semester was up by 10 per cent for undergrads.
  • It won’t be the same as in-person, but our faculty members are committed educators who will offer the best experience given the circumstances.

What is your plan moving forward?

  • There will be much discussion to come, among faculty, staff and students. The Senate will play a significant role, as will the Board of Regents.
  • Strategic planning process is taking shape already.
  • Looking at a possible federal infrastructure plan and we have shovel-ready projects that could address some infrastructure needs should that program happen.

Additional messaging

  • While the halls and parking lots look empty, the business of the university continues. For example, staff in the Academic Advising Office have responded to almost 2,000 student emails since the transition as students work through the transition to remote learning.
  • We estimate that more than 90 per cent of employees are logging in through remote systems and a limited number are working on campus in critical functions and with physical distancing and health and safety protocols in place.
  • Thank faculty members for their quick work to transition to remote delivery in a relatively short period of time.
  • Thank students for their patience and flexibility, and openness during these uncertain times in their academic journey.


  • Always Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Multi-campus university; Marine Institute and Grenfell Campus. Hopefully a campus in Labrador in the near future.
  • Special obligation to the people of the province.
  • Meeting people and listening and will continue to listen.

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Matt Barter is a fourth-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.


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