Big Harv takes the money and runs

After steering the University of Calgary for over eight years, Dr. Harvey Weingarten will soon abandon ship.

In a news release on Tuesday morning, Weingarten announced plans to step down from his positions as president and vice-chancellor effective Jan. 1, 2010.

Weingarten explained his reasons for departure had nothing to do with any precipitating event.

He said he felt he accomplished everything he set out to do when he took the job.

“I was pretty articulate when I got here about the things I hoped to accomplish and I decided to go because my sense was I had done what I was asked to do, maybe even more,” said Weingarten. “It’s really not deeper than that.”

Weingarten came to the U of C in 2001 after two decades at McMaster University, replacing Terry White as U of C’s president.

Although he still has over 10 months left on the job, Weingarten leaves behind a legacy that includes transforming the U of C into a more research-focused institution and boosting its reputation in research circles.

“I think we’ve made quite good progress on many of those fronts and so that’s when you decide [that] we’ve pushed this as far as we can and it’s someone else’s turn,” he said.

Reaction to the announcement of Weingarten’s imminent departure came immediately from a wealth of campus groups. In a press release, Graduate Students’ Association president Rithesh Ram praised Weingarten’s contribution in the development of quality money.

“In the past, as part of the tuition consultation process, the University of Calgary has committed to re-investing money into student-driven initiatives to improve the quality of the student experience,” said Ram. “Without Quality Money, the GSA wouldn’t be able to fund many of its basic programs, such as our Career and Mentorship program, our Ombuds Office, as well as many of the programs offered to help grad students become better teachers and researchers.”

U of C Faculty Association president Anne Stalker wished Weingarten well in his future endeavours.

“At the same time, we look forward to working with the Board of Governors as they plan for the transition to the next president,” she wrote in a release.

In Student Legislative Council, Students’ Union president Dalmy Baez confirmed that the SU will be involved with BOG in selection of Weingarten’s successor.

“As mentioned by the chair of BoG, the SU will most definitely be part of choosing a new president,” said Baez.

As he prepares to complete his term and move on to life outside of the U of C, Weingarten expressed gratitude for his time at the university.

“I’m incredibly lucky,” said Weingarten. “I’m lucky because when I go to work and I do things, I have the opportunity to work at an institution, a university, that I believe is critical to the future of the nation and a critical part of the fabric of any country. I get to work with young people, which is actually very neat to do. It keeps someone like me young.”

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