U of C announces new president

Although students may still not know how much their tuition will rise in the fall, they now know the new face behind any increases.

The University of Calgary announced yesterday Dr. Elizabeth Cannon, current dean of the Schulich School of Engineering, as the school’s 8th president since its creation in 1966.

Cannon was selected by the 18-member presidential advisory search committee formed February 26, 2009.

“We conducted an international search, so I am especially proud to say that, Elizabeth, one of our own, was the best candidate from among a group of very talented candidates,” said Jack Perraton, chair of the U of C Board of Governors. “It has been a privilege to be involved in choosing the person who will move the University of Calgary forward.”

Cannon says that the chance to continue her relationship with the university is an opportunity she hopes to use to make a difference in showcasing what the school offers to the external community.

“I’ve been associated with the university for many years, so to go from the dean of engineering to the president is just a huge excitement for me because I get to learn more about the university and provide leadership at the level of the presidency,” said Cannon.

Cannon, who has received an engineering bachelor’s as well as an MSc and PhD in geomatics engineering from the U of C, will become the institution’s first female president. Cannon became dean of the engineering faculty in 2006 after serving in the faculty since completing her PhD in 1991.

“I’m really excited,” said Students’ Union president Charlotte Kingston. “Having been able to take part in the selection process she is without a doubt an incredible candidate.”

During her announcement speech Cannon stressed her commitment to dialogue with students.

“My style of leadership is to be open and transparent with students,” Cannon said. “I value your opinions, I want to sit across the table and hear what’s on your mind and what you see as the future of this institution. We’re here for the students. We want to work with you to build a stronger university to help you be more successful, so that when you leave the University of Calgary you will be able to take on the world.”

Kingston said that Cannon has already shown to her she’s more than capable of following through on her promise to be open with students.

“A big part of why I was supportive of her candidacy is because of what her own students had to say about her,” Kingston said. “She communicates often with her students and she’s particularly supportive of their initiatives.”

Cannon takes over the role at a time when the U of C is facing

massive cutbacks, huge losses to its endowment funds and potentially thousands of dollars in tuition increases to professional-program students. In 2009 former president Harvey Weingarten warned as many as 200 jobs would be cut in an attempt to reduce a then estimated $14-million budget shortfall. The school was additionally reported to be at risk of losing up to $81 million in research grants from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research after the federal agencies said the school had an “unsatisfactory” framework for ensuring grant funds were used according to requirements. University researcher Daniel Kwok has also been recently accused of plagiarism by Canada’s largest research funding organization and barred from funding indefinitely.

Cannon said that over her first few months in office she plans to listen to students and staff on their concerns and aspirations for the university.

Cannon has received a long list of accomplishments and awards, including the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute Casey Baldwin Award, been listed in Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2006, 1st AWSN Minerva Award for Women in Science and Innovation and the APEGGA Summit Frank Spragins Technical Award. She has been involved as an expert at the frontiers of global positioning systems since 1984 and her work has resulted in advancements in satellite-based navigation systems worldwide.

Cannon officially replaces interim president Warren Veale July 1.

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