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Surprise! U of G has new president

A happy occasion turned into a surprising and exciting one Tuesday when the announcement of a new president was added to the scheduled kickoff of the University of Guelph’s 50th anniversary celebrations. It was a nice touch, tying the two events together. And for Prof. Franco Vaccarino, whose appointment as the U of G’s eighth president had been finalized only about an hour earlier by the university’s Board of Governors, it was a nice introduction to the community in which he’ll soon be a central figure.
It’s hard not to be extremely impressed by the accomplishments of Vaccarino, who was picked to be the U of G’s next president after an international search. A widely published and internationally recognized researcher in the field of psychology, he has received major awards from leading research and scientific organizations. He’s also credited with helping the University of Toronto Scarborough grow in size and stature since he took over as its leader in 2007.
Board of Governors chair Dick Freeborough summed it up by calling Vaccarino “a remarkable scholar and educator as well as an accomplished administrator. He has an entrepreneurial spirit, a powerful sense of community and a profound commitment to societal engagement. He clearly has what it takes to lead the university in the years to come.”
That’s a powerful endorsement of the new person taking on what is a major and very high-profile role in Guelph. The university is a big deal in this city, and its president sets the tone for what happens there.
It might not be the easiest time to take over, though. A new cost-cutting approach at the U of G championed by Alastair Summerlee, who remains president until August, is meeting a lot of resistance. As reported on Page 5 of today’s edition, U of G students, professors and unionized workers will meet Monday to discuss their fight.
There are always challenges at a university, though. We wish Vaccarino the best of luck in meeting the ones here.

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