Kwantlen President Leaving for Alberta Gig

Today Kwantlen Polytechnic University President Dr. David Atkinson announced he was leaving. I will be straight and say that I’m ambivalent about the news. Dr. Atkinson is a very smart, experienced, and serious man, and he won my esteem with the energy and ambition he brought to our university; faculty and staff certainly stepped up to help meet the goals he set. We did have differences, though, but now is not the time to describe them. Here is Dr. Atkinson’s statement to the Kwantlen community:

Earlier today Scott Nicoll [Chair, Kwantlen Board of Governors] advised the Kwantlen community of my resignation from the University to assume the position of President at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton. This decision was a very difficult one, in part because both my wife Terry and I have thoroughly enjoyed our time at Kwantlen, and because, while much has been achieved over the last three years, much remains to be done. We have made good friends and I have appreciated the amazing commitment of so many people in changing the course of the institution.

The decision to move was a deeply personal one. Terry and I have lived separately from our families for a long time, and never did we anticipate that an opportunity to move home would present itself to us. Terry’s family, my son and his wife, my sister and her family, and my 95 year old father all live in Edmonton. The call to go home was simply too great, and we knew there would probably not be another opportunity.

I realize that this decision may surprise many of you, but please be assured that it was not made easily. No institution is bigger than one person, and I am confident that Kwantlen has turned the corner on becoming a university, and that it has an exceedingly bright future ahead. The progress we have made is the result of many, many people working together in the interests of the institution. My time at Kwantlen has provided me with great satisfaction, and I want to thank all those who supported my efforts here.

There are a number of important initiatives which we need to address in the coming months. We now have an institutional vision to which the Board is absolutely committed. Our next steps are to transform this vision into action. I intend to remain actively engaged as President at Kwantlen until June 30, 2011 and to work with Dr. John McKendry, who will be Acting President next year, to ensure a smooth transition.

My very best wishes to you all.

Sincerely,

David W. Atkinson
President & Vice Chancellor

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Dr. John McKendry should be an excellent interim president. I ran into him today, wished him the best, and offered him any support I might be able to give to help him lead Kwantlen forward.

May Dr. Atkinson and his family have all the luck in the world back in Alberta.

[Update: Since I posted this, the Kwantlen Faculty Association, which represents all faculty, has questioned the appropriateness of Dr. McKendry’s interim appointment. Reason: In essence, faculty say he hasn’t been properly vetted for the position by a traditional Search process. And it is hard for them to get on board, as it were, if they believe that faculty wasn’t consulted. I understand and accept this faculty position. That said, I will continue to work eagerly with the Administration we have, and in particular with Dr. McKendry, with whom I have been serving on the President’s Rebranding Steering Committee for the last couple of years or so. — 12 March]