News

Search for new university president underway

May 11, 2017 Catherine Turnbull

Mount Allison University President and Vice-Chancellor Robert Campbell will complete his term in June 2018. The process to find the next university president, facilitated by the Board of Regents’ presidential search committee, is currently underway. The Board has additionally contracted the consulting services of managing partner Anna Stuart through the executive search firm Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette.

In March, the committee offered students, staff and faculty an online survey through which they can communicate feedback. According to Ron Outerbridge, the chair of the Board, this online survey will remain open for the duration of the search process.

On April 28, university constituents were sent a private link to a draft of a mandate for the position.

The mandate states that its key elements “have been developed from feedback provided through the consultation phase of the search […] from all members of the Mount Allison community – faculty, staff, students, administrators, alumni, unions and associations, and key donors and stakeholders.”

The mandate includes an outline of expectations for the next university president and a profile of an “ideal candidate” which includes experience and qualifications as well as competencies and personal attributes.

Among other things, the mandate outlines that the next president should “actively engage with the full Mount Allison community,” “continue to differentiate” the Mount Allison experience, “establish, lead and work with the academic leadership team,” “lead, encourage and support programs and initiatives that invite, enhance and embrace the diversity of ideas, cultures and peoples within the Mount Allison community,” and “pursue and support active engagement and inclusion of Indigenous communities and ideas at Mount Allison”.

This mandate will become public after the draft is approved at the Board’s May meeting. The public advertisement of the position will be managed by Stuart and the Knightsbridge firm, according to Outerbridge. Stuart will facilitate interviews and develop a transition plan for the incoming president as well as continue to help manage community input.

Mount Allison Students’ Union (MASU) President Sara Camus is the student representative on the presidential search committee.
In an email to the Argosy, Camus outlined the MASU’s suggestions for the new university president, which included doing a better job of facilitating conversations between faculty, staff and students, “acknowledging strike baggage” (referring to the 2014 faculty strike), and facilitating conversation within the “complex political and social systems at Mt. A”.

Camus acknowledged there have been conflicting opinions about the MASU’s relationship with the president and administration. “This is always a challenge for the MASU because the turnover rate is so high,” Camus wrote. “Some executive teams believe that to be autonomous, the MASU should not have working relationships with the administration. Other executive teams believe that the students prosper when the two teams have open and constructive communication. A lack of consistency in these views can damage these relations.”

Camus told the Argosy that all updates concerning the presidential search will be brought to the Students’ Administrative Council.
In an email to the Argosy, Outerbridge wrote that “the specific role of the President has not changed fundamentally since the last search. However, the context in which the University operates has greatly evolved, and this does impact our process and of course the final selection of the appropriate candidate.” Outerbridge cited this context as the reason for the committee’s inquiries for community feedback.

“Our current process is designed to reflect the needs of the University community today,” Outerbridge wrote. “This includes a committee reflecting faculty, students and staff points of view, a commitment to actively encourage community feedback, and a thorough search process which includes promotion through traditional and online media as well as direct outreach. We have also committed to keeping the community updated as the process unfolds.”

In the April 6 issue, the Argosy asked students and faculty what they were looking for in the next university president. This article can be found online, at argosy.ca.

According to the Mt. A website, early recruitment of candidates will commence over the summer. The Board committee will search for and interview candidates in fall of 2017, and will present their recommendation to the Board in winter of 2018. The Board’s executive committee will make the final decision. The incoming university president is expected to begin their term on July 1, 2018.

Outerbridge, Stuart, and Camus have opened their emails to student, staff and faculty comments. Their respective email addresses are below.

routerbridge@mta.ca
mtapresidentsearch@kbrs.ca
masmasupresident@mta.ca

The search goes on for a qualified president. Andreas Fobes/submitted