White fails to impress SU officials, students at SLC

By Mary Chan

The two worlds of university administration and Students’ Legislative Council merged Tuesday night when University of Calgary President Dr. Terry White addressed SLC, and drew criticism from council members.

White, who is currently being reviewed by a committee to see if he should be reappointed president for another 5-year term, prefaced the discussion item with a 25-minute overhead presentation. It detailed changes at the U of C since he became president three and a half years ago. Among the highlights were the launch of Scholar’s Advantage (an early admission program) and the introduction U of C 101.

After the presentation, he took questions from council members for an hour and a half. Issues raised in the low-key discussion included student representation on committees, Career Services and Dinos Athletics.

SU Vice-president Operations and Finance Amanda Affonso asked White what he considered to be his greatest accomplishment of his term.

"I think to be able to take a university that was in very difficult straits, morally and financially, and begin to make some headway; working with all the constituent groups to begin to address problems and move ahead," said White.

White also addressed the difficulty post-secondary education in Alberta has in getting the government’s attention.

"They have been generous in research funding, but that money comes with strings, and we need more money into the core operating budget," he said.

About 10 students watched the proceedings from the gallery, though not all stayed for the full time. Council members asked White questions on the students’ behalf, including one about why he was not going up to Edmonton on the SU-chartered bus on Thursday.

"We each have our own role in the way we do things," White responded. "What we need to have is a multiple track in terms of voicing our opinions. If we have a common objective, which we do, and come at it in different ways, it will send a good message."

White was also asked about the tuition campaign last year, which was mainly directed at him.

"If you look at who needs to hear our message, we don’t get a lot by going after each other on campus," said White, adding that he didn’t want to dwell on it for too long. "I didn’t like being the poster boy; I’m not sure what it achieved."

Afterwards, White said he was pleased with his visit to SLC.

"They had a good understanding of the issues and asked good questions," he said. "We have common concerns to build a strong university, so I welcomed the opportunity to meet with them."
However, council members and students in the gallery were unimpressed.

"He’s not the kind of person I want as a university spokesperson," said second-year General Studies student Jeff Langlois, when asked if he thought White should be reappointed. "I don’t think that he’s very representative of the students or the faculty around campus. I get the feeling he’s more concerned with building links with the business community than improving basic issues around the university."

Council members were also unhappy.

"I think he avoided our questions," said Affonso. "They were roundabout answers. He gave the politically correct answers."

"I can’t believe he didn’t answer a single one of our questions with a straight answer," said Academic Commissioner Nic Porco. "It’s very discouraging. It would be nice if the chief executive officer of our university had an opinion on some of our major issues."

White said he was willing to come back to council.

"I’m more than happy to come visit again," he said.

The Presidential Review Committee will decide whether to reappoint White in May.

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