On the last page of every issue of Industry West, we find a Saskatchewan businessperson or leader to answer our version of the Proust Questionnaire. Marcel Proust made the questionnaire famous, believing that 35 specific questions could reveal a person’s true nature. We grabbed this idea—you’ve probably seen it in Vanity Fair—and made our own version. The first five questions are ours, and then we ask our subject to pick their favourite Proust questions to answer.
Say hello to Dr. Jeff Keshen—president of the University of Regina.
1. Where are you from?
I grew up in North York, which is part of metropolitan Toronto. At that time, it was mainly farmland, and my neighbour was Charlie Conacher. He had been a famous member of the 1930s Toronto Maple Leafs “Kid Line,” and he farmed near my home long after his playing career ended.
2. Where did you attend school and what did you study?
I did a Bachelor’s degree in History at York University in Toronto, did a Master’s degree in History at Carleton University, and then returned to York to complete my PhD in History.
3. What is your career history?
After I got my PhD, I was a professor of History at the University of Ottawa for 16 years. For part of that time, I was chair of the History department. Then I was dean of arts for six years at Mount Royal University in Calgary before serving for three and a half years as vice-president of the Memorial University’s Grenfell Campus, located in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador. I became president of the University of Regina in 2021.
4. What’s the best piece of business or career advice you have been given?
My first boss, a man named Harvey Worth, gave me some sage advice during my first summer job doing janitorial work for him: “Remember, the door swings both ways!”
5. What’s your favourite thing about Saskatchewan?
I have discovered many great things about Saskatchewan since I’ve been here, but I must say that Regina is my favourite part. It is a beautiful and perfectly sized city with great people and a strong sense of community.
6. Which living person do you most admire?
The living person I most admire is former US President Barack Obama, who brought great dignity to the office of President, and inspired millions of people who thought they didn’t have a chance in life.
7. Where would you most like to live?
I would most like to live where I am now, because in every place you live, I believe you should focus on where you are and how you can make the best life there both for yourself and for others.
8. What is your favourite occupation?
I always wanted to be a sports broadcaster like Howard Cosell—but it wasn’t meant to be!
9. Who are your favourite writers?
My favourite writer is Ralph Ellison. He wrote the 1952 book Invisible Man, which details a man’s marginalization due to racism.
10. Who is your hero of fiction?
My hero of fiction is the lawyer Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird—a man of unflinching principle who could be counted on to do the right thing in the most challenging of circumstances.