University of Guelph Names a Historic New President

In midst of a very disruptive school year where campus has been nearly emptied and all classes are going digital, the University of Guelph have announced the person they’ve hired to get things back to normal for 2020/21. Charlotte Yates, currently the provost and vice-president (academic), has been hired as the ninth president of the U of G, and the first female to hold the office.

“I am deeply honored by the trust the Board has placed in me to lead the University of Guelph during this challenging time,” Yates said in a statement.

“I welcome this opportunity. The University has extraordinary, dedicated faculty, staff and students and exceptionally strong academic and administrative leaders,” Yates added. “Working together, we will rise to meet the challenges before us while also enhancing our reputation for quality and excellence.”

Of course, the university is experiencing a pretty big challenge right now, which is running a post-secondary institution in the middle of a global pandemic. The woman who ran the search for the U of G’s new president said the goal right now was to create a sense of stability and continuity, which is why the search process was suspended and Yates was hired to serve as president in an interim capacity.

“Our goal is maintaining the integrity of the presidential search process and ensuring stability for the institution amidst extraordinary global circumstances,” said Shauneen Bruder, chair of the Board of Governors who also chairs the Presidential Search Committee.

“COVID-19 is creating much uncertainty, both now and for the future. We expect that even once the crisis subsides, the implications will be long-lasting,” Bruder added. “At the same time, there are many other strategic imperatives the University must address to continue to move forward.”

Yates has been appointed to lead the institution for a two-year term starting later this summer. The term of the University of Guelph’s current president, Franco Vaccarino, ends on August 1.

Bruder added that the search committee had reached a “critical stage” in its search for the next president of the U of G, but felt that the school was best served by focusing its efforts and resources on combating COVID-19. Not only is there the continuing education of the undergraduate and graduate students to consider, but a number of U of G researchers are on the frontline of research into the pandemic.

For all those reasons, Bruder said that Yates experience managing the U of G through some complex situations made her the ideal choice. “The Board has great confidence in her ability to build on the positive momentum generated by president Vaccarino’s leadership and is empowering her to fully use her skills, energy and knowledge to advance the University’s mission and vision,” Bruder said.

Yates joined the faculty of the U of G in 2015 after almost 30 years of teaching at McMaster University in Hamilton, including seven years as the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Her academic area of expertise has to do with labour relations and industrial policy.

The university added that an announcement of Yates’ successor as the interim provost and vice-president (academic) will be forthcoming.

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