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‘Concordia’s got a lot of momentum’

Provost Graham Carr to steer the university until next leader in place
June 20, 2019
By Doug Sweet

Graham Carr Provost Graham Carr has lots to do while awaiting the university’s president, likely to be in place about a year from now.

As Alan Shepard departs, Provost Graham Carr becomes interim president until a new leader is installed, most likely in one year, according to those familiar with the process to pick new presidents.

While Carr’s title is “interim,” that should not be equated with “caretaker,” he says.

“Concordia’s got a lot of momentum in many areas, in terms of advancing its academic mission, its strategic directions, its fundraising, its physical infrastructure – all of those things continue,” says Carr, who has also served at Concordia as vice-president of research. “An interim president should be doing what a president does. You can’t put the car in neutral. In fact, it would be a fatal error for Concordia to put the car in neutral because we’re in a good spot and we want to continue that.”

The university has, according to rules and regulations, struck a search committee that includes membership from various communities in the university, including students, faculty, board members and others. The committee has held its first meeting and has sought input from the community on its draft job profile, says Concordia’s associate secretary-general Danielle Tessier.

University leaders tend to change jobs at the end of an academic year, so the expectation is that the Search Committee, with the help of a headhunting firm, will consider and interview candidates beginning in late summer or early fall and have a preferred candidate by early 2020, who would likely be in place by June or July, Tessier says.

Dramatic changes at Concordia in the last decade, including a sharp rise in the number of graduate students (9,000) as well as undergrads (37,000), mean the university now has to “develop a pattern and a pace of growth that we can fully support and that is best aligned with the areas we want to prioritize,” Carr says.

“That’s a long-term game. You know, Concordia’s been in a situation the last few years where students have been knocking down the doors to come here. Our enrolments have been positively out of sync with the experience in the rest of the province. But we’re at a point where we just can’t continue to grow everywhere, so we just have to think about where we want to grow.“

So there’s lots of work for our interim president. Carr is a big supporter of the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now.

“It’s really exciting to see how the campaign has unfolded and that in a relatively short space of time, not only have we been able to get more than halfway to our goal, but we’ve done it through a combination of attracting the largest-ever gifts the university has received – both the Gina Cody gift and the anonymous planned giving gift — while at the same time getting great take-up from smaller donors who are equally important.

“They’re all sending the same message collectively about their pride, confidence and trust in the university.”

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