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University of Waterloo | Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Wednesday, October 7, 1998

  • UW's next president: David Johnston
  • Johnston's path to Waterloo
  • And much more happening today
  • Staff association membership booms
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UW's next president: David Johnston

David L. Johnston, CC
David L. Johnston, a nationally-known scholar in law and public affairs who was principal of McGill University for fifteen years, will come to UW July 1, 1999, as the university's fifth president.

His appointment was unanimously approved last night by the senate and board of governors, as recommended by the presidential nominating committee. He'll serve a six-year term.

UW chancellor Val O'Donovan, who headed the nominating committee, called Johnston "a pre-eminent Canadian, a leader of international stature . . . David Johnston will bring to Waterloo a remarkable constellation of attributes. I have no doubt that the Johnston era will be an exciting period for Waterloo, moving Waterloo internationally in unprecedented fashion. I believe we have engaged the leader this community has directed us to find."

James Downey, who will finish his term as president next summer, said he has known Johnston for some twenty years, and "I am full of admiration for what he has accomplished and confident of Waterloo's future under his leadership."

And Paul Mitchell, chairman of the board of governors, said he is "absolutely enthusiastic" about the appointment. "I know our community will benefit from the wisdom, vision and energy which he, as presidents before him, have brought to the Waterloo enterprise. We are delighted to welcome David and Sharon Johnston to Waterloo."

A letter from Johnston, writing as "President-Designate", is being distributed on campus this morning along with a letter from Mitchell announcing the appointment. The letter from the future president is brief:

Thank you for inviting us to join you. Sharon and I are looking forward to making Waterloo our home. We are already speaking enthusiastically to our five daughters and recently acquired son-in-law about what is so clearly a warm and welcoming place.

We have spent our entire adult lives in universities. The University is a most powerful instrument for good in our society. We have long admired Waterloo's spirit of innovation and leadership for all of Canada's universities. What a joy it is to anticipate being a part of Waterloo and establishing new friendships with all of you.

In separate comments made for a UW news release, Johnston speaks of "the tradition of splendid leadership given by Jim Downey, Doug Wright, Burt Matthews and Gerry Hagey", his predecessors in the president's office.

"The University of Waterloo has given unique leadership to Canadian higher education and research for the last half of the 20th century. Its spirit of innovation is a springboard into the 21st century and its success crucial for all of us", he says.

Johnston's path to Waterloo

David Johnston, aged 57, is a law professor currently based at the McGill Centre for Medicine, Law and Ethics. Educated at Harvard, Cambridge and Queen's, he taught law at Queen's and Toronto, then became dean of law at the University of Western Ontario in 1974. While he was at Western he got an unusual look at UW, serving in 1975 as chair of a hearing committee about the non-renewal of a faculty member at Renison College.


No, not that one!

The Ontario minister of education, David Johnson, doesn't even spell his name the same way.
In 1979 he became principal (president) at McGill, holding that post until 1994. ("During those 15 years," says Mitchell, "he initiated and succeeded with the most ambitious fund-raising exercise in McGill's history.")

Johnston's degrees are in law -- his claim to the title "Dr." comes from eleven honorary degrees -- and his scholarship has included such fields as computing and information technology, securities regulation, public policy, information technology law, and intellectual property law. He has published ten books and many scholarly articles and public reports. His first book was Computers and Law and his last Cyberlaw. Several years ago he co-authored with his eldest daughter Debbie, a lawyer with the federal department of justice, Getting Canada On-Line: Understanding the Information Highway.

His curriculum vitae has more than 50 entries under "Service to the Community". He was chair of the federal government's Information Highway Advisory Council, which did its work from 1994 to 1997. He is president of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, chair of the board of the Neuroscience Network of Centres of Excellence, which links researchers at 15 Canadian universities, and also chair of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

At UW, Johnston will hold tenure both in the department of computer science and in the faculty of applied health sciences.

He is a Companion of the Order of Canada -- the highest honour given for public service in this country -- and can also boast of having been an All-American twice as a member of Harvard's hockey team. He still keeps fit, running daily and entering "one or two marathons a year".

And much more happening today

Interviews start today for winter term co-op jobs; employer representatives will be in Needles Hall every day for about a month. Jobs must be coming in nicely, since the co-op department has just announced that an additional job posting, #8, will go up on October 14 -- previously #7, due up this Friday, was to be the last one for this phase of the placement process. "Please note," a memo from co-op also says, "that the limit on the number of jobs co-op students may apply for has been raised from 18 to 21."

Graduate student Howard Cheng will give a talk for the Computer Science Club this afternoon: "ACM Programming Contest, A Programmer's Perspective". He writes: "I will discuss my observations at the first regional contest, concentrating on the mental and strategic mistakes that people make. I will also briefly talk about a set of useful strategies for programming contests, followed by a detailed discussion of the strategies used by the University of Alberta programming team, which finished in eighth place at the World Finals last year." The talk starts at 4 p.m. in Math and Computer room 4063.

The second candidate for the post of dean of arts will meet the public in the Theatre of the Arts at 12:30 today. He is Bob Kerton of the economics department. The first candidate, David John of the Germanic and Slavic department, appeared in a similar session Monday afternoon.

Mary Jo Leddy, on campus as this year's Pascal Lecturer, gives her second seminar and lecture today. The seminar, at 4:00 in the Conrad Grebel College chapel, is "The Spirit of Power"; the lecture, at 8:00 in Arts Lecture Hall room 116, is "Power with a Difference".

Challenges and problems in achieving balance among environmental, economic and social considerations during resource and environmental management will be examined in the first annual Faculty of Environmental Studies Lecture tonight. The speaker is Bruce Mitchell, geography professor and UW's associate vice-president (academic). He will give his talk -- "Sustainability: A Search for Balance" -- at 7:30 in the Theatre of the Arts. Key ideas from the concept of sustainability along with the significance of water as a resource and as a constraint on development will be investigated. Experience from three research projects: flood-damage management in the Grand River catchment; integrated catchment management in Canada and Australia; and human and institutional capacity building for environmental management in Indonesia will be considered in the context of the concept of sustainability.

The student awards office will be closed all day today (and the following two Wednesdays, October 14 and 21). Emergency calls can be directed to ext. 6031.

A "gala dinner" tonight will honour the Top Ten Academic All-Canadians, picked by the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union from among some 1,200 student athletes across the country. "These athletes," says a CIAU announcement, "exemplify the dedication and commitment of over 1200 student-athletes competing in the CIAU, who successfully combined a varsity sport and academic commitment while maintaining an 80% or better academic standing." Two athletes come from each of the CIAU's five regions; the Ontario University Athletics representatives are McMaster swimmer Tim Cowan and Toronto pole-vaulter Rebecca Chambers.

Staff association membership booms

Alice Pelkman, chair of the membership committee for the UW staff association, reports happy news:
Our membership drive is drawing to a close. Our campaign began on July 1, and we are delighted to report that we now have 78 new members. We are closing our drive with some great prizes, to be drawn on Wednesday, October 7. It is not too late to join the Staff Association and be eligible for the draw. New memberships received up until 3 p.m. on Wednesday will be included. Some of the great prizes are: Dinner for two at the Imperial Chinese Buffet on Fairway Road; A bookcase from Stack-a-Shelf; $25.00 value on your WatCard; A golf shirt from the University Club; $20.00 gift certificate from Lulu's Dine and Dance in Pioneer Park Plaza; Free tanning sessions from Sun-sational tanning salon; $20.00 gift certificate from Larry's Hair design; Free tickets to any Drama department production; and the list continues.
Barb Yantha in the association office in the Davis Centre (phone ext. 3566) is waiting to receive last-minute calls or answer questions.


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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