As I start my term as president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University, I feel deeply privileged to be entrusted with such an important and exciting responsibility.
Laurier is a remarkable university with an impressive past and a very bright future. The ethos and reputation of any university is a reflection of its people, and at Laurier we have an outstanding community of faculty, students, staff, alumni, donors and friends.
Our institutional proposition — inspiring lives of leadership and purpose — perfectly captures the collective aspirations that have been handed down from one generation to the next since the university was founded 106 years ago.
As Andrew M. Thomson notes in his centennial history of the university, the institution that evolved into what we know as Wilfrid Laurier University faced many challenges over the decades. The faculty, staff and administrators in each era showed great resolve and determination, adapting and innovating as needed to maintain their commitment to higher education and academic excellence.
I am proud to be part of such a heritage. Since coming to Laurier in 2009, first as dean of the Faculty of Science and later as provost and vice-president: academic, I have been impressed with the university on so many levels: the commitment to innovative teaching, the growing research capacity and graduate programming, the outstanding student experience, the exceptional engagement within our campuses and with our host communities and beyond, the respect for diversity and inclusion, and the sensational “Golden Hawk” spirit that unites students and alumni.
No matter how I have participated in the academic mission of a university throughout my educational experiences and career — as an undergraduate and graduate student, teacher, researcher, dean, vice-president and now president — I have always recognized the importance of the student-faculty relationship. This relationship is at the heart of the university’s mission and I derive energy from the enthusiasm, varied perspectives and approaches, and commitment to learning and personal and professional development that this interaction creates every day at Laurier.
I have always been driven by curiosity and the desire to find answers to questions; the more collaborative the solution-finding, the better. It is important to me as a leader to remain grounded in what makes universities so valuable to society, and to remain connected to what drew me to the university environment in the first place. So don’t be surprised to occasionally find me in my research lab, where, with the help of talented grad students and research staff, we study the effects of environmental contaminants on fish health and ecosystem integrity. On other days, you may find me in a classroom, engaging in teaching and learning activities where I have expertise to share, including in biology, women in science and leadership.
I am eager to further explore connections internally with faculty, staff and students, and externally with alumni, partners and supporters. As a first-year priority, I want to strengthen Laurier’s relationship with the communities in which the university operates. I look forward to spending significantly more time off-campus; not only sharing the university externally but also bringing the needs of our partners back to our campuses.
I am excited to meet as many of you as possible in the months and years ahead as we continue the great collaborative work that has made Laurier the outstanding university that it is today. I am looking forward to expanding my perspective on the university in my new role as president.
Deborah MacLatchy, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Wilfrid Laurier University