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University Leadership and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century

University Leadership and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century: A President's Perspective

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    University Leadership and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century
    Book Description:

    Drawing on more than a decade of service as president of one of Canada's major research universities, Peter MacKinnon offers an insider's perspective on the challenges involved in bringing students, faculty, and governments together in the pursuit of excellence.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6978-9
    Subjects: Business, Management & Organizational Behavior, Political Science, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-5)

    The College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan is more than a building. It is almost a shrine, a testimonial to the importance of agriculture in a province with more than 40 per cent of the arable land of the second-largest country on earth.

    The architecture of the building is commensurate with its stature. Glass and signature university grey stone on the outside frame an interior whose main public feature is an atrium that extends from the building’s north door to its south, and nearly to its full height of six storeys.

    When the university has something...

  5. Chapter One Guess Who’s Coming to Breakfast: On Positioning and Differentiation
    (pp. 6-26)

    About twenty-five faculty members were present when I arrived at the Faculty Club for breakfast on 20 April 2001. Since the beginning of my presidency twenty-two months earlier, I had hosted “Breakfasts at the Club” on Fridays when I was in town. Anyone could come, and those who did could raise any issues they wanted to discuss. There was no formal agenda and no commitment to follow up on enquiries or concerns. The purpose of the event was conversation.

    It was clear at once that my guests were not present by chance. A long-time faculty member and one-time decanal aspirant...

  6. Chapter Two What’s the Plan?: On the Pursuit of Goals
    (pp. 27-37)

    Blaine Holmlund was University of Saskatchewan vice-president (planning) when he arrived at my office in the College of Law one afternoon in 1986. I knew the vice-president only slightly and did not anticipate the reason for his visit, but he came quickly to the point. He asked me to join his planning group working on issues and options for the university’s future. I reminded him that I was a law professor and knew nothing about planning. This admission of ignorance did not deter him, or me for that matter, and I agreed to a part-time secondment to his office.


  7. Chapter Three White Coats Make an Office Call: On Tuition and Financial Assistance for Students
    (pp. 38-51)

    I had advance notice of a visit from medical students unhappy with a tuition increase, and so I was not surprised to look out my office window on 24 April 2002 to see a wave of white coats making their way from the medical school to my office. I greeted the students, saying I regretted that my office was not large enough to invite all of them in, but that if they wanted to identify representatives to join me for a conversation, I would welcome the opportunity to talk with them. They did so and I sat down with their...

  8. Chapter Four Yes Minister: On Government Engagement, Academic Freedom, and Collective Advocacy
    (pp. 52-68)

    Shortly before the end of my first year in office I travelled to Regina to meet with the minister whose Cabinet portfolio included universities. He scolded me because an opposition member of the legislative assembly had been seated in the front row of the platform party at a recent convocation ceremony, and accused me of “working with the opposition” because I briefed opposition legislators as well as government members on the issues faced by the university. Later the same minister informed me that he would be attending a meeting of our board of governors. Upon his arrival at this meeting...

  9. Chapter Five Grateful Dogs: On Philanthropy, Commercialization, and Partnerships
    (pp. 69-90)

    On a beautiful early autumn day in 2002, an outdoor crowd gathered on the grounds of the University of Saskatchewan’s Western College of Veterinary Medicine. The opening of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and radiation therapy centre for small animals was a notable event. Enhanced diagnostic and therapeutic services for companion animals offered treatment improvements, together with teaching and research opportunities that had attracted philanthropists and other supporters who were now present to be publicly named and thanked.

    It is a duty of university presidents to say thank you on occasions such as this, and I arrived on the scene...

  10. Chapter Six Let’s Make a Deal: On Governance, Collegial Management, and Collective Bargaining
    (pp. 91-110)

    It was February in the university’s centennial year of 2007 and I was out of the country but had reached the provost by phone. He was on his way into Deans’ Council and wanted to know what message I had for the deans on the immediate prospect of a faculty strike. Collective bargaining had become protracted, and the faculty union had an ambitious agenda that included workloads, faculty complement, and representation on the board of governors. In addition, I knew that the union leadership was ill-disposed towards the direction of the university in recent years. It was prepared to utilize...

  11. Chapter Seven A Canadian Dilemma: Strong Science, Weak Innovation
    (pp. 111-130)

    University presidents are storytellers. They tell the stories of their universities in hundreds of settings, formal and informal, near and far. These are accounts of achievements, usually of faculty, whose work has had a powerful and enduring impact on the institution, and they are told to remind listeners about its finest hours and to inspire them to emulate the example. One of my favourite stories is that of Nobel Prize laureate Gerhard Herzberg who in 1935 found refuge at the University of Saskatchewan from the Nazi regime in his native Germany. His decade on faculty was a key link in...

  12. Chapter Eight Leadership with an Asterisk: On the Precarious Presidency
    (pp. 131-152)

    Among the final items on the agenda for meetings of the board of governors is an in-camera meeting without its president. This meeting is enough to inspire curiosity and sometimes anxiety in the president, and the longer the meeting, the greater the curiosity and the more likely it becomes anxiety. Whatever the board members are talking about, you know that it involves you, and they are saying things they prefer to say in your absence. These meetings are necessary for good governance, because they encourage disclosure and candour among board members, and they prepare the board chair to have informal...

  13. Afterword: On the Global Talent Race
    (pp. 153-160)

    At dinner in Beijing I was seated beside the president of a prominent Chinese university. He described his country’s plans to build one hundred of the best universities in the world in the twenty-first century. It was not the first I had heard of this ambition. I had noted on an extended trip to China that it was voiced by university, government, and public and private sector leaders alike, and that they appeared to be determined as well as united behind the goal. “Where will you get the faculty?,” I asked my host. He replied that many of the faculty...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 161-180)
  15. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 181-184)
  16. Index
    (pp. 185-190)