Finding a new president and developing a sustainable long term funding model are just some of the challenges facing the University of Toronto’s Governing Council in the year ahead – and its two newly elected alumni members say they are up for the job.
John Switzer (BA 1970), who begins his second three-year term as an alumni governor, spent part of his first term observing student engagement and encouraging the administration to find ways to ensure students are consulted on major decisions affecting campus life.
The now-retired banker and management consultant also contributed his financial expertise as chair of the council’s pension committee to help address the university’s approximately $1-billion pension shortfall. “We have a plan to get the deficit under management, but the problem will probably be with us for a while,” says Switzer, who is also a member of the Principal’s Advisory Council at U of T Mississauga.
The shortfall is an issue he’ll continue to deal with as he serves as vice-chair of the pension committee; he’ll also chair the Business Board, which oversees capital projects, real estate holdings and endowments, as well as external relations and alumni affairs. He says a key goal will be exploring new sources of income for university operations. “We need a sustainable revenue model to minimize our dependence on annual tuition increases,” he says.
Switzer is one of eight alumni among Governing Council’s 50 members, who include faculty, administrators, students and Ontario government appointees. Together, they oversee all of U of T’s academic, business and student affairs.
New elect Andrew Szende (BA 1967) is still learning about the work of the council. But the health sector executive and guest lecturer in the Faculty of Medicine is keen to help U of T continue to lead globally as a research institution. More specifically, Szende hopes to address what he sees as a particularly pressing priority – finding a replacement for current president David Naylor, whose term ends Dec. 31, 2013.
“I can’t think of anything more important – it’s critical that we get the right person,” he says.