By Nancy Reid, Professor, University of Toronto and Officer of the Order of Canada
This was the subject heading in an email I sent to an American colleague, on learning of Arvind Gupta’s sudden and unexpected resignation as President of UBC. My colleague had been hired into a senior administrative post at a Canadian University, and also had a short-lived tenure: “I was told they wanted to bring someone in from the outside to make changes, but it turned out that what they really wanted was the status quo”.
While those closest to UBC are understandably concerned about the reputation of the university, the presidents of major research institutions are influential leaders for the whole country. I was not alone among my U of T colleagues in being very enthusiastic about the appointment of President Gupta to lead one of our great research universities. And I am certainly not alone in my disappointment with the recent events.
Are you a creative, imaginative, and interested in meaningful change? If so, senior university leadership in Canada is probably not for you. And the Conference Board of Canada reports: “Despite a decade or so of innovation agendas and prosperity reports, Canada remains near the bottom of its peer group on innovation”. Hmmm.