On May 30, one month before the Board of Governors was to announce its decision on the reappointment of Dr. Terry White as University of Calgary President, Dr. White announced he will not seek another term in office. Dr. White said as recently as January 2000 he would seek another term, but now cites personal reasons for his change of heart.
Dr. White said he wants to pursue a different direction that more evenly balances his career with his personal time.
"I’m looking at the opportunity, after 13 years as a university president, to have what I would call a more normal life," he said. "I don’t know what normal is. I don’t plan to retire, but I think it’s the right decision for me to make personally."
Although Dr. White’s reasons for leaving are personal, concern about his performance has been raised. A recent University of Calgary Faculty Association survey, to which 19 per cent of TUCFA’s members responded, showed that only 21 per cent of the faculty members supported Dr. White’s reappointment.
TUCFA President Anne Stalker was surprised by Tuesday’s news.
"I appreciate the situation he is in and recognize that the pressures involved in holding such an important position take their toll over time," she said. "His announcement that he would not seek a second term came as a complete surprise to me, [but] I can understand the reasons he has given for making this decision."
Dr. White’s decision caught others off guard as well.
"Up until now he had made every indication he was going to seek another term," said Students’ Union President Toby White, adding that he felt it was unfortunate the announcement came so suddenly.
"We will look forward to being part of the presidential search process," he said. "We hope a candidate will be found soon enough to make a smooth transition."
U of C Chairman of the Board of Governors Ted Newall said he enjoyed working with Dr. White immensely and stressed his achievements over the last four years.
"Anyone can talk, but you look at what’s happened during his term, and it’s a remarkable future," Newall said. "The period of his leadership has been one of exceptional success for this university. I feel good about what he accomplished."
Newall’s main concern was about the effect appointing a new president might have on the university and its operations.
"Every transition slows an institution down because it takes the new person a while to figure what they’re doing," he said.
Dr. White still has a year left as U of C president, but he is already thinking about his future plans.
"In addition to being president, I have an academic appointment," he said. "I’m a full professor with a joint appointment in management and sociology. I like to teach. I like to research, so that’s an option. I’ve got enough time that I’ll be able to consider a number of options."
Dr. White will look back on his term with fondness.
"It’s been wonderful, just the opportunity to interact with students, faculty, staff and people in the community has been outstanding," he said. "I really like Calgary. I have a really high regard for the U of C–it’s a wonderful university."