News | Committee searches for Mendelson’s replacement

Provost portfolio to remain largely unchanged following consultation

Correction appended October 16, 2012.

The search is on for Morton Mendelson’s replacement, as the newly minted advisory committee charged with the task meets for the second time today.

The term of the current Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) ends in August 2013, and a recently created committee chaired by Provost Anthony Masi will meet at least four times between now and mid-November.

Details of what the committee will actually discuss are bound by confidentiality.

Created in 2006, the position of Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) is, by design, a liaison between students and administration.

As such, Mendelson has often been the target of student anger surrounding administrative decisions. Last February, Mendelson’s office was occupied for several days by students protesting the decision not to recognise the results of an existence referendum for QPIRG and campus-community radio station CKUT.

The occupation came weeks after a university-wide consultation process, which resulted in the leaders of 11 student associations signing a letter to Masi raising concerns about the size and scope of Mendelson’s portfolio.

According to a statement from Masi’s office, no major changes are being made to the portfolio, which currently oversees the Office of the Dean of Students, the Student Services Office, Enrolment Services, Food and Dining Services, Athletics and Recreation, University Residences, and the Office of International Education.

“Any minor changes would await the appointment of the new incumbent,” the statement read.

As per University Statutes, the new advisory committee is composed of three representatives from the Board of Governors, four from Senate, and two students. Of the four Senate representatives, three are professors.

Music Undergraduate Students’ Association (MUSA) VP External Katie Larson is one of the student representatives to the committee. She was a signatory to a document sent to Masi last year suggesting that changes be made to the Deputy Provost’s portfolio.

Larson’s name was put forward by SSMU VP University Affairs Haley Dinel, who said she chose Larson because of her familiarity with Mendelson’s office through activities like helping organize Frosh and as a MUSA executive.

The other student representative is Elizabeth Cawley, a PhD candidate in Psychiatry and the Member Services Officer at the Post-Graduate Students’ Society.

School of Nursing professor and committee representative Madeleine Buck said that the position requires a “balanced sensitivity to student issues,” and that any candidate must meet that criterion.

Buck added that because of the evolving nature of the position, the exact criteria are in flux.

Alex Popp, a special advisor to the committee from the McGill Association of Continuing Education Students, told The Daily that he values a candidate that is “open [and] wants communication.”

Asked if she would like to see the new hire come from within the University, Cawley said, “there’s something to be said for experience and a knowledge of McGill’s history, but whether or not that means they have to come from within, I don’t think so.”

The advisory committee’s suggestion will ultimately be subject to the approval of the Board of Governors.

In an email to The Daily, the Provost’s office said that it has hired a headhunting firm that will “[provide] the Committee with all the necessary information it will need to determine the best candidate for the position.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to SSMU executive Haley Dinel as VP Internal, she is in fact VP University Affairs.


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