Volume 29 - Number 14 - Thursday, April 10, 1997

Tavenas named rector of Laval

by Daniel McCabe

After spending eight years as one of McGill's most senior administrators, Vice-Principal (Planning and Resources) François Tavenas will be leaving at the end of the month to take over as rector of Laval University. Tavenas was officially elected by members of the Laval community last week.

"I think it's absolutely wonderful for him," says Principal Bernard Shapiro. "His career has prepared him extremely well for the rectorship of that university. Laval is making a perfect choice."

Shapiro isn't alone in that assessment. In a newspaper editorial published shortly before the Laval election (francophone universities elect their rectors in a process not unlike political parties), Quebec City's influential Le Soleil gave Tavenas its official endorsement.

Adds Shapiro, "It's the first time I know of that Laval has elected someone from outside the university and I think that's a good sign. I believe universities should vary in terms of who they select as leaders--sometimes it should be someone from within the community and sometimes it should be someone from outside."

Before arriving at McGill in 1989 to become vice-principal, Tavenas was Laval's dean of engineering and science for four years. He was a professor in Laval's Department of Civil Engineering from 1970 to 1989.

Tavenas says he expects that Laval and McGill will work closely in the years ahead. "I'm really looking forward to increased opportunities for cooperation between the universities," Tavenas told the Reporter (see interview).

His term at Laval begins on May 3. Shapiro says that, initially, the responsibilities of the Vice-Principal (Planning and Resources) will be divided up among other administrators. Government relations director Ginette Lamontagne will report directly to Shapiro himself. Vice-Principal (Research) Pierre Bélanger will take on more duties related to McGill's dealings with the governments in Quebec City, Montreal and Ottawa.

Bélanger will also oversee computing, telecommunications and the Information Systems Resources office. He will take over on an interim basis as McGill's representative on the inter-ministerial/inter-university group dealing with medical issues.

The Planning Office will report jointly to Vice-Principal (Academic) Bill Chan and Vice-Principal (Administration and Finance) Phyllis Heaphy. Chan and Heaphy will be responsible for ensuring that the planning process will be academically driven and that the budget process for 1998-99 and onwards will include both operating and capital considerations.

Roy Dalebozik, executive director of Facilities Development, will be responsible for running the Departments of Facilities Development and Facilities Management, the Office of Physical Resources, the Environmental Safety Office, building services and Security and Parking. He will report to Heaphy.

Finally, Dean of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Deborah Buszard will take over Tavenas's responsibilities for Macdonald Campus.

Shapiro stresses that these arrangements are temporary. He says the future of the position is currently being considered. "There are three possibilities. We can maintain the position as it stands now, sort out the responsibilities and change it into something else, or not have that vice-principalship at all any more. I'm hoping to be able to announce what we'll do by early May."

When Canadian universities go hunting for a new leader, it seems as if candidates with a connection to McGill have a definite edge. Graduates or former professors are already at the helm of several universities, including Queen's, Western Ontario, Concordia, Acadia, Memorial, Guelph and Bishop's. This summer, Dr. Martha Piper, a PhD graduate and a former director of McGill's School of Physical and Occupational Therapy, will become the president of the University of British Columbia.

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