in General

University of Waterloo President is Canada’s next Governor General

A few minutes of being important
Unless you are completely disconnected from the news in Canada you must have seen that David Johnston will be the next Governor General of Canada. I think the atmosphere in Waterloo at the moment is nothing short of great pride and excitement that someone that is such a great community leader is being recognized for what is one of the highest profile positions in Canada.

From my perspective I think it inspiring that a person that grew up in Sault Ste. Marie and worked the steel plant in his youth (only first heard him tell that story a few months ago) has taken a long path through academia, family life (he has a lot of daughters), and still works his farm just outside of Waterloo is now the next Governor General of Canada.  The University of Waterloo will certainly miss him and the person who thinks they can try and fill his shoes on campus just had the bar raised pretty darn high.

An email went out to all the folks on campus today and I haven’t seen it online yet so I thought, since it is so well written, I would share it here and link to it whenever it ends up online (Friday July 9th’s Daily Bulletin has extensive coverage and links to other articles). Should add, I am a bit happy to see VeloCity listed as one of the things he is proud of around here 😉

Earlier today, President Johnston informed the university leadership about his appointment as Governor General effective October 1, 2010. He noted that he will continue as uWaterloo president until September 30.

“My wife Sharon and I are honoured to be asked to serve Canada in this way and will miss the Waterloo family enormously, but we will not be far away,” he said.

“ I am a teacher as are my only brother and my sister. All five of our daughters are public servants. All the important things in life I’ve learned from my children. This is just one more lesson.”

While he is excited about the new opportunity in his life, he says there is still “much to do at uWaterloo between now and Oct 1. I want to devote an enormous effort to bring Campaign Waterloo home in splendid fashion and will count on all of you to ensure a smooth and vigorous transition to my successor.”

During his 11-year tenure at the University of Waterloo, David Johnston oversaw unprecedented growth in the university’s reputation, research capacity, and leadership capabilities.

Of his many accomplishments, he will be especially remembered for:

  • Putting the University of Waterloo, and the surrounding region, on the national map as a centre for talent, ideas, and innovation.
  • He led Campaign Waterloo, which raised in excess of $500 million to support the university’s scholarship, students, and key building projects.
  • The Institute for Quantum Computing, founded in 2002, has become a leading centre for development of ideas that may lead to a revolution in how we store and transmit information, among many other things. The institute moves into the $160-million Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Centre in 2011, one of five current major building projects underway on the uWaterloo campus.
  • Leading research groups have formed and grown under President Johnston’s tenure, including the Water Institute, The Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WATCar), and the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change. Research funding for the university has nearly tripled in this decade from $61 million in 1999 to $170 million in 2009.
  • He has encouraged talent and ideas through VeloCity, the university’s unique “dormcubator” residence for student entrepreneurs, and the Accelerator Centre, which provides a fertile environment for start-up high-tech firms developing new products and services.

Demonstrating the value and impact of collaboration among academics, government, philanthropists and business to boost community building and economic development.

  • 2001 saw the launch of Waterloo’s Research and Technology Park, a 100-acre development on the university’s north campus supported by the City of Waterloo, the Region of Waterloo, and the provincial and federal governments.
  • The university’s School of Architecture opened in a renovated silk mill in downtown Cambridge in 2004, a partnership of the university, local business leaders, the City of Cambridge, the Region of Waterloo, philanthropists, and the provincial government.
  • Waterloo’s health sciences campus, anchored by Canada’s only co-op School of Pharmacy that opened in 2009, was made possible through the investment and vision of the City of Kitchener, the Region of Waterloo, the provincial and federal governments, and the university.
  • Ground will break this fall for a new Stratford Campus focused on digital media, a joint project of the City of Stratford, corporate partners including Open Text, the university and the provincial and federal governments.

Inspiring the community through his vision of a “Knowledge Capital” that has raised the sights of Waterloo to aspire to world leadership.

  • In 2007, the City of Waterloo was recognized as the world’s Top Intelligent Community by the Intelligent Communities Forum.
  • President Johnston’s vision includes a community where universities are innovative leaders, healthy living standards raise, investments in research and development transform, smart infrastructure is developed, and social innovation is championed.

Championing experiential education and the university’s co-operative education program, the largest of its kind in the world, which nurtures Waterloo’s students’ ideas and teaches them how their ideas are their most valuable offering in Canada’s knowledge economy.

  • The William M. Tatham Centre for co-operative education and career services opened on the Waterloo campus in 2002, a building dedicated solely to supporting and growing the university’s co-op program.
  • Half of Waterloo’s undergraduate students are part of the co-op program, with 13,000 students matched with 3,000 employers world wide.

A presidential search was launched earlier this year to replace President Johnston, who had been scheduled to retire from Waterloo in June 2011.

In the interim, before his successor is chosen, the university’s Policy 50 will be applied, which gives responsibility to the Board of Governors, in consultation with the Vice-President, Academic & Provost and other senior university officers, to appoint an interim President to serve until the nominating committee has finished its work.

Meg Beckel
Vice-President, External Relations

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  1. David Johnston is a member of the Board of Directors of mega-corporation CGI. Harper’s government has awarded CGI $100’s of millions of dollars in Canadian government contracts and have been accused of awarding CGI contracts unfairly and being biased in favour of CGI.

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    • Not sure how that has much to do with David Johnston’s character or suitability for the position. In Canada I am sure you can find all sorts of connections between politicians questionable decisions and successful leaders in business, academics, etc. David Johnston is about as grounded as a person could be and Canada is lucky to have him serve the role — much better choice than any ex-CBC broadcaster or ex-minister of the past few GG’s.