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'A next-gen university grasps the power of positive and meaningful change'

Interim President Graham Carr talks about Concordia's emphasis on innovation, experimentation, creativity — and valuing diversity
July 24, 2019
By Jake Brennan

'A next-gen university grasps the power of positive and meaningful change'

Graham Carr began his tenure as Concordia’s interim president and vice-chancellor on July 1. Previously, he served as the university’s provost and vice-president, Academic, since October 2016.

Carr joined Concordia’s Department of History in 1983. He has held many administrative positions at the university since then, including vice-president of Research and Graduate Studies and dean of Graduate Studies. 

This is the third in a four-part series of conversations with the interim president. In this instalment, Carr discusses Concordia's traditions and how they continue to inform the university's principles.

Concordia is distinguishing itself as Canada’s next-gen university. What does “next gen” mean to you? What qualities position Concordia to assume that role?

Graham Carr: One advantage Concordia has is its youth: in some respects, it’s easier for us to be forward looking. The history of Concordia’s founding institutions is important, and our traditions matter and need to be valued. But part of our tradition has always been to offer something different from what other universities were providing.

And I think, therefore, there’s been an emphasis at Concordia on innovation, on experimentation, on creativity, on taking risks, on truly valuing diversity, reading the horizon and not being afraid to tack accordingly. All of those things are key to being a next-gen university.

Does this make Concordia more nimble in a time of rapid change?

GC: Yes. “Nimble” and “university” don’t often fit together too well in the same sentence! But on the university scale of nimbleness, I think Concordia dances as well as anyone — especially given our size.

I think the other thing we have is ambition — ambition to be recognized, to be successful, to be the destination university for students, to bring in outstanding-quality faculty, and to provide programs, activities and opportunities within the university that prepare our students for what’s coming in their lives.

Being a next-gen university means being in a position of continual reflection, continual analysis and wanting continual improvement. It’s about grasping the power of change — not change for change’s sake, but change we think is positive and meaningful.

Read the first and second instalment of this series, and stay tuned for the final part! Also, read Graham Carr's message to Concordia faculty and staff.


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