Lowy out. Lajeunesse in.
And for the student unions, it looks like it’s no more mister nice guy:
A grandfatherly Al Pacino lookalike with a non-confrontational style mirroring his training as a psychiatrist, Lowy was admired for his warmth, grace and intelligence.
Yet critics sometimes pined for a leader with a harder edge willing to stare down fractious students and quell faculty rivalries.
When the time came to replace him, Lajeunesse, bilingual engineer and president of Ryerson University in Toronto, who spent seven years heading the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, was alone on the short list.
Search committee chairperson Alain Benedetti cited Lajeunesse’s research credentials, “excellent management skills and track record in managing change.”
In other words, enough with the excitement already.
In other words, the student unions are going to have a hard time walking all over this guy, or so it seems.
He hasn’t wasted any time stirring the pot, either. His office isn’t even finished, and already he’s beating the war drums:
Concordia students may be taken aback by Lajeunesse’s blunt endorsement of higher tuition.
“If you go to university, your income is going to be vastly superior to that of someone who didn’t. I think it’s only fair you should pay for that privilege.
“I’m not saying I think students should graduate with $100,000 in debts. But I think it’s a bit unfair that those who don’t go to university should be paying for those who do.
“Socially, it’s not the best way. I’m not one to support zero debt, necessarily.”
He notes Quebec tuition is a third what Ontario students pay.
“Tuition rates are not a deterrent to going to university. Maybe at $20,000 they would be, but not at $5,000.
“Obviously, when it’s cheaper to send your kids to university than daycare, something is out of whack.”
Finally, some sensible talk on the tuition issue. But those are also fighting words. And my experience with the Concordia Student Union tells me that they’re not going to take this sort of challenge lying down.