Douglas Black new board of governors chair

The latest addition to the University of Calgary’s senior administration comes in new Board of Governors chair Douglas Black. The announcement was made Feb. 25 after the Alberta government appointed Black, along with two others to the board to fill vacancies.

Black replaced former chair Jack Perraton, who spent more than a dozen years at the school and stepped down when his term expired Dec. 31.

Currently sitting on the executive council of the Board, Black is the vice-chair and senior council of Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP and has expertise in the areas of corporate, commercial and energy law. Black also holds a number of other community positions including chairman of the board for the Michaelle Jean Foundation, a youth education initiative, as well as serving as president of the Energy Policy Institute of Canada, a group representing energy businesses across Canada.

Black said he has always been involved with education and jumped at the opportunity to be involved at the U of C.

“I have a fundamental belief that education is the absolute key to economic prosperity and individual strength and success,” Black said. “I’m very excited about the prospect of working with our new president to bring the organization to the very first tier of universities in the country, both as a centre of research and as a centre of undergraduate and graduate learning.”

U of C president Elizabeth Cannon said she’s delighted to have Black as chair.

“Doug has been on the board since 2007 so he’s obviously got knowledge about the university,” she said. “He brings a wealth of experience and also a wealth of knowledge of the university and I look forward to working with him.”

Students’ Union president Lauren Webber sits on the BOG with Black and said he is open and easy to work with.

“The first thing he asked me was if students are being properly consulted with Project Next that’s been going on and wanted to know from the GSA and from the SU’s perspectives what can we do better to engage students on campus,” said Webber. “He made a conscious effort to single me out and ask me that and that’s really encouraging from a board chair who could just toss us in with the rest of the board members.”

Black agreed with Webber’s assessment and thinks student groups are essential to the success of the school.

“Our clients are the undergraduate and graduate students, our delivery of the educational product is aimed there, so it is extraordinarily important that we have an open, consultive, frank relationship with students,” Black explained.

Black plans to focus on the U of C’s financial sustainability.

“I’m not talking about just having enough money to do what we’ve been doing,” said Black. “I want to see an increase in contribution to post-secondary education in Alberta.”

Black said there are so many competing demands for funds from both donors and the cash-strapped government that the U of C will have to try to demonstrate the quality of investment that comes from post-secondary.

“We need to keep ensuring that the contribution of funds to post-secondary education is linked to the prosperity agenda,” said Black. “The reason you fund is because it makes you a smarter society and a smarter society is a more competitive society and is a more productive society and is less a burden on the social services of society.”

The SU voted against tuition increases and the implementation of market modifiers to the MBA and bachelor of commerce programs at a BOG meeting on Feb. 28. The students will give a presentation to the board Apr. 8 on the value of the quality money program, a project Webber’s successor may have to fight to save when its agreement expires next year.

Quality money provides over a million dollars annually for proposals from the U of C community on how to enhance the student experience.

“They told us we were lucky to have this and we definitely realize how lucky we are that we have that relationship between the board and the SU,” said Webber. “I can see that being something that they would target, hopefully not though.”

Black said in difficult financial times, all expenses face cuts.

“It will be looked at because everything has to be looked at,” said Black. “But my own view is that I hope not. I think it’s a great program.”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.