I think that the next president needs to have the ability to work with a variety of different stakeholders. One of Trent’s issues, or strengths, is that we are a very opinionated campus. This means that it is really hard to get everyone on the same page so we need someone who has the ability to bring those groups together even when they may be on opposite sides of an issue.
The other piece is making sure that we get someone with a very strong background in the liberal arts and sciences. This is Trent’s cornerstone and I think that coming at it from other perspectives has not worked historically.
– Dwayne Collins, Steward, P. R. Community Student Association (Sadleir House)
I’d like it if it was someone familiar with Trent and possibly someone who has been familiar with Trent for many years. This is regardless of whether they like the way the university is currently running. It would be nice if it was not just some person who has theoretical ideas from other universities.
– Pat Reddick, Co-editor, Arthur Student & Community Newspaper
It’s a tough question because a president’s job at a university is super complicated. You need to have many different skill sets and be someone who can straddle the realms of business and of education.
I think first and foremost you have to be somebody who understands the academic enterprise: what are universities about, why do we have universities. Equally, you have to be a bit of a politician: someone who understands the art of the possible, who knows where they want to go and how to get others to buy into that but also how to listen to others.
What I think we need at Trent is a booster, someone who honestly and passionately loves this university and isn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops. We need somebody who is the embodiment of the Trent spirit. Now this doesn’t have to be somebody who went to Trent, it could be someone who has discovered Trent and thinks that this is an incredible institution, but what’s important is that this person is unabashedly for Trent and not afraid to say that we’re different.
– Michael Eamon, Trent University faculty & Principal of Lady Eaton College
The biggest thing is getting someone who understands Trent history, because that’s who we are. At the same time this person needs to be someone who has the vision and foresight to see where Trent can go. We are a growing university and we need to change towards the market and that will involve some shifts in how we operate. In terms of the student perspective, we need someone who is willing to listen to students and assist us in things that we do, for example the student centre. Any assistance and support is always fantastic.
– Kudzai Nyakusendwa, Trent Student & Vice President University & College Affairs, Trent Central Student Association
I think that a sense of vision is important but it has to be balanced with the information that will not be known until the person starts. Trent is so unique and although that word is thrown around a lot it is the truth. I think that you can come here with an idea of what a university should look like, what a campus should look like, what students should be learning, and how they should be learning it, but until you arrive at Trent I think its hard to suggest a vision. At the very least if [the next president] has a vision they need to recognize that it must be very flexible.
– Tracy Milne, Operations Manager, Trent Central Student Association
A leader at that level is going to need a skill set that includes everything from conflict resolution and project management to clear communication skills. This person needs to be both a really good listener and decisive, but I would put listening above decisiveness because trying to run a university is not just simple, its not complicated, it is complex. Someone in that position needs to put together effective mechanisms for listening to the Trent community and what it wants or needs.
Any person who applies for the job will know that universities are hyper-political environments, so trying to build bridges and relationships and trust through storytelling and listening will be a pretty tall order. But I think that anyone who can do that and do it well will help Trent become a university that is truly delivering on its educational mandate.
– Todd Barr, Executive Director, Trent Centre for Community Based Education
Most importantly, the next president of Trent should to be someone who is coming out of the university system and has had a successful and distinguished career as an academic researcher, teacher, and administrator. One of the things we put a premium on at Trent is that faculty members have a responsibility to engage in teaching, research, and administration. So in order to understand the type of institution that we are the next president should be accomplished and experienced in all three of those roles.
The candidate should also understand the nature of Trent: its place as a small to medium sized university in Ontario, its strengths and challenges and opportunities, and how we can position ourselves successfully while continuing to do what we do well: combining high quality small group teaching with outstanding research performance.
– James Struthers, Trent University faculty
A big aspect of the job is having a willingness to substantially listen to Trent students and incorporate students’ voices and opinions into the decision-making process. It needs to be someone who is not going to ride roughshod over students wishes. This is important because a vast majority of people that make up Trent University are students and Trent has a long history of having very substantial roles for students in the decision-making process. In the more-recent past there has been a watering down or outright elimination of these positions and I think Trent has suffered because of this.
– Matt Davidson, Graduate student & Co-ordinator of OPIRG Peterborough
I would like the next president to be personable and approachable. I like the fact that [current President] Steven [Franklin] is really down to earth.
Trent has a habit of doing things after other universities so I think that we should be looking for someone who shows both leadership and initiative.
– Kasthuri Tharma, Undergraduate Student
Trent is a business: we’re in the business of educating people. So do we need the university to be financially responsible? Yes. But I think that because of the direction of the current government the next president needs to be someone who is able to think outside the box and figure out how we can promote liberal arts and a more holistic education.
Also, the next president needs to be someone who is ahead of the curve in the whole post-secondary sector. Someone who is not just reacting but acting and putting forward a vision that incorporates all that Trent does.
– Christopher Armitage, Manager, Trent University Administration & Information Services