By Ruth Davenport

The University of Calgary has reason to welcome the Ides of March.

In early March 2001, Brian MacNeil was named the new chair of the U of C Board of Governors. Late that same month, Dr. Harvey Weingarten’s selection as the seventh president of the university was announced.

March 2002 has also yielded a new leader for the U of C. On Fri., March 22, William (Bill) Warren, QC., was elected as the 10th chancellor of the U of C.

"I’m thrilled with the opportunity," said the Calgary lawyer and three-year veteran of the U of C Senate. "I’m very pleased with what goes on at the University of Calgary, I’m a native Calgarian and I’m delighted to be in a position to serve as a link between the university and the city."

Warren recently retired as president of the Canadian Olympic Association and was a director of the Calgary Olympic Development Association. He explained that his experience in the Olympic community positions him well to serve as the university chancellor.

"The thing about being the president of the COA was that I was working with youth seeking athletic excellence," he said. "At the university, I’ll be working with youth seeking academic excellence. So, the two common denominators are youth and excellence and the transition won’t be difficult."

Along with Olympic leadership positions, Warren also good-humouredly acknowledged his experience with Olympic legal

"Yes," he smiled. "I was Ross Rebagliati’s lawyer."

Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati was stripped of a gold medal during the 1998 Winter Olympics after traces of marijuana were detected in a urine sample. Amid a storm of controversy and on the strength of the COA defence, Rebagliati was re-instated as the Olympic champion.

"The COA came under some censure for defending someone with traces of marijuana in his urine," explained Warren candidly. "We didn’t explain our position very well. We weren’t there to argue the moral issue over an athlete who had tested positive for marijuana; we were there because neither the International Olympic Committee or the International Ski Federation had banned marijuana as a prohibited substance and therefore had no right to remove an athlete’s medal."

Olympic reminiscing aside, Warren outlined his plans for the U of C senate.

"The senate will be involved in the debate with respect to long-term solutions because the problems of overcrowding and accessibility all impact on academic excellence," he explained. "The chancellor represents the public interest in the university and the evolution of post-secondary education is a challenge that will involve the senate and the chancellor because of the public’s impact on the debate."

Currently, four undergraduate students sit on the senate and Warren expressed support for the possibility of increasing this number.

"One thing I get credit for as the COA President is increasing the number of athlete representatives on our board from one to six," he said. "I believe that when making decisions that impact athletes, we must have their input to make the best decisions. If that basis is correct, then I would welcome a change that resulted in more student representatives on the senate."

After further musing on Olympic performances in Salt Lake City, during which he admitted to weeping along with the nation when the women’s hockey team claimed gold, Warren expressed relief that the 10-week selection process is over and decided.

"It’s been a strange process because to this day I don’t know who the other candidates were," he mused. "The rules prevented me from telling any senators I was a candidate, but now I can tell people. And I can tell them I’m a succesful candidate."

The new chancellor takes office on June 15, 2002.

Leave a comment