Rumour Has It…

Monday, March 5, 2007

  • "The weather will be bright and shiny tomorrow," proof of the ffectiveness of the Rumour Mill

    "The weather will be bright and shiny tomorrow," proof of the ffectiveness of the Rumour Mill

Written by Gonzalo Moreno

“We’re here to respond to any questions or observations you might have” is how UoG President Alastair Summerlee opened the second round of The Rumour Mill. The Mill is a “quasi-monthly” (according to Communications and Public Affairs) public forum where members of the general university population can directly ask Summerlee and Provost Maureen Mancuso questions about rumours that have been circulating around the university or other issues of interest.

The first item on people’s minds was the recent UoG advertising campaign in national media. Summerlee said that, when chatting with a Canadian diplomat in a formal dinner, she asked about enrollment figures in Guelph, and when she learned that it was around 18,000, her shocked response was “you surely don’t need 18,000 students in agriculture!” Summerlee admitted that “we don’t have the reputation that U of T or UBC have, but our faculty, staff and students are as good as anywhere else,” and that the campaign is designed for “changing people’s perception of the university.” He also added that “the ads have had a huge influence and it is clear that they have been having an impact,” citing several recent copious philanthropic contributions.

Discussion about the ads led to the “green” or “environmental” themes that were central to some of them. Summerlee defended Guelph’s “strong reputation for Enviro-Sci programs,” but admitted the University has serious shortcomings in crucial areas. “We need to be much more aggressive to reduce the use of electricity and gas,” he said. Given the dismal look of UoG’s budget, Summerlee expressed confidence that the referendum question that will be put forward this month would help pay for extensive retrofitting.

Other subjects that were broached were early retirement packages (“I don’t think there are any, we have already reduced people to the bare minimum”), the pavement of Johnston Path or even the whole of Johnston Green (“it’s not happening,” said Mancuso) and even lottery tickets as a form of financing for the University. “You’d be surprised at how many stones we’ve turned,” said Summerlee, “but people would not want to buy tickets.”

One of the last items in the improvised agenda was the election of a new chancellor as current chancellor Lincoln Alexander moves on to a chancellor emeritus position. Summerlee reminded those in attendance that Alexander isn’t going anywhere soon: “we want someone to learn the ropes under his tutelage, someone who is gracious enough to accept Lincoln will be top of the heap.”

However, the process to select a candidate has been finalized, and the name will be proposed for confirmation (three-quarters of the votes are needed) by the University Senate this Wednesday. Summerlee said that they are being “tight-lipped about the person, as there will be negative connotations [for the candidate] if the Senate votes him down.” Stay tuned to Thecannon.ca for news about the candidate’s confirmation.

As if to confirm the fallibility of all the opinions that had been voiced, Summerlee and Mancuso departed with one final gem: “I very much doubt we will have to close tomorrow,” the President said, the day before the UoG had to close because of two consecutive snow days. It seems like the Rumour Mill started its own inaccurate rumour.

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