There was a buzz building that Stephen Harper was preparing to nominate Kitchener Waterloo local David Johnstons as Canada’s next Governor General, and last week the news became official.
This is a terrific choice for Canada, and is yet another event that will draw Canadian’s attention to the Waterloo Region, one of the most vibrant communities in Canada.
David has been a major influence for good in our community, inspiring the Barnraiser Award which is presented ‘annually to an individual who contributes to the region’s tradition of inspirational, collaborative achievement.’
This award was inspired by a speech David gave that I was lucky enough to attend, where he laid out 10 goals for our community, to truly be a world class knowledge destination.
The University of Waterloo and its alumni around the world proudly learned today of the appointment of current president, David Johnston, as the next Governor General of Canada, effective October 1, 2010.
President Johnston shared some of his feelings with the campus and broader community, commenting:
“My wife Sharon and I are honoured to be asked to serve Canada in this way and will miss the Waterloo family enormously, but we will not be far away,” he said.
“I am a teacher as are my only brother and my sister. All five of our daughters are public servants. All the important things in life I’ve learned from my children. This is just one more lesson.”
“David Johnston exemplifies the highest qualities of leadership and commitment to public service we have in Canada. The University of Waterloo is fortunate to have had him as its president for the past 11 years, a time when Waterloo has grown in innovation, accomplishment and profile in Canada and around the world,” Harding said.
“While we are losing a great president, Canada gains a splendid individual and a community leader who will represent all Canadians with great distinction as our next GG. We, his Waterloo family, are so grateful for his leadership and we are proud of him.”
Mike Lazardis, co-CEO and founder of RIM (Research In Motion), and Waterloo’s Chancellor Emeritus, said Johnston “has led the University of Waterloo during the most prolific growth period in its history. He has worked tirelessly to position the University of Waterloo as a world-class institution of math, science, engineering, health and the arts.
“David’s strong understanding of law and the Canadian Constitution, combined with his great communication skills, charm and real ability to achieve consensus amongst stakeholders, will serve him well in the role of Governor General. David’s appreciation of the importance of higher education, scientific research and private-public partnerships also distinctly qualifies him for the role.”
During his 11-year tenure at the University of Waterloo, David Johnston oversaw unprecedented growth in the university’s reputation, research capacity and leadership capabilities.
Of his many accomplishments, he will be especially remembered for:
Putting the University of Waterloo, and the surrounding region, on the national map as a centre for talent, ideas, and innovation.* He led Campaign Waterloo, which raised in excess of $500 million to support the university's scholarship, students, and key building projects. * The Institute for Quantum Computing, founded in 2002, has become a leading centre for development of ideas that may lead to a revolution in how we store and transmit information, among many other things. The institute moves into the $160-million Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Centre in 2011, one of five current major building projects underway on the uWaterloo campus. * Leading research groups have formed and grown under President Johnston's tenure, including the Water Institute, the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy, the Propel Centre for Population Health Impact, the Waterloo Centre for Automotive Research (WATCar), and the Interdisciplinary Centre on Climate Change. Research funding for the university has nearly tripled in this decade from $61 million in 1999 to $170 million in 2009. * He has encouraged talent and ideas through VeloCity, the university's unique "dormcubator" residence for student entrepreneurs, and the Accelerator Centre, which provides a fertile environment for start-up high-tech firms developing new products and services.* 2001 saw the launch of Waterloo's Research and Technology Park, a 100-acre development on the university's north campus supported by the City of Waterloo, the Region of Waterloo, and the provincial and federal governments. * The university's School of Architecture opened in a renovated silk mill in downtown Cambridge in 2004, a partnership of the university, local business leaders, the City of Cambridge, the Region of Waterloo, philanthropists, and the provincial government. * Waterloo's health sciences campus, anchored by Canada's only co-op School of Pharmacy that opened in 2009, was made possible through the investment and vision of the City of Kitchener, the Region of Waterloo, the provincial and federal governments, and the university. * Ground will break this fall for a new Stratford Campus focused on digital media, a joint project of the City of Stratford, corporate partners including Open Text, the university and the provincial and federal governments.
Inspiring the community through his vision of a “Knowledge Capital” that has raised the sights of Waterloo to aspire to world leadership.* In 2007, the City of Waterloo was recognized as the world's Top Intelligent Community by the Intelligent Communities Forum. * President Johnston's vision includes a community where universities are innovative leaders, healthy living standards rise, investments in research and development transform, smart infrastructure is developed, and social innovation is championed.
Championing experiential education and the university’s co-operative education program, the largest of its kind in the world, which nurtures Waterloo’s students’ ideas and teaches them how their ideas are their most valuable offering in Canada’s knowledge economy.* The William M. Tatham Centre for co-operative education and career services opened on the Waterloo campus in 2002, a building dedicated solely to supporting and growing the university's co-op program. * Half of Waterloo's undergraduate students are part of the co-op program, with 13,000 students matched with 3,000 employers world- wide.
David was also principle of McGill, as well as a member of Harvard’s rowing team
For his part, Johnston said he was “profoundly” touched by the appointment and relished the opportunities his new job will provide. “I’ve had the good fortune to witness Canadians’ creativity and our ties to the world, as well as our diversity and our vitality,” he told reporters in Ottawa. “The opportunity to see these values at work across the country means a great deal to me.”
Johnston, a legal scholar and current President of the University of Waterloo, led McGill for 15 years, from 1979 to 1994, before returning to the Faculty of Law to teach. In 1997, he was named Chairman of the Board of Overseers of Harvard University, his alma mater. He assumed the presidency of the University of Waterloo in 1999 and has guided that institution to new levels of national and international recognition.
“David Johnston has made an enormous contribution to higher education in Canada,” said Heather Munroe-Blum, McGill’s current Principal and Vice-Chancellor. “We at McGill are absolutely delighted to see this inspired choice to be the Queen’s representative in Canada. His appointment is both a recognition of his prodigious talents and sterling reputation, and an important symbol of the vital role higher education, research and innovation plays in this country’s prosperity and progress in the global community.
“Prof. Johnston has truly made a very real difference everywhere he has served,” Munroe-Blum said.
The governor-general is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the prime minister and acts as the Queen’s representative in Canada. The term is five years and can be extended to seven.
On being sworn in as Governor-General, Johnston automatically becomes the official Visitor of McGill University. This little-known role dates to the Royal Charter of 1852, under which McGill operates. At the time of the Charter, the Governor of Lower Canada was appointed as the Visitor, a role that since Confederation has been played by the Governor-General of Canada. The post is ceremonial; although the Visitor does have the power to disallow University statutes, that power has never been exercised.
McGill awarded Prof. Johnston an honorary doctorate of laws in 2000
Everyone I’ve spoken to in Kitchener Waterloo is exceedingly proud of David’s appointment. Congratulations Mr (soon to be) Governor General!
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