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Getting to know the interim president

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The winter season brings snow, holidays and, this year, a new interim president at the University of Calgary.

While students still do not know who the president of their school will be in the long term, they do know who will fill the void after Harvey Weingarten steps down at the end of December.

Last Monday, the institution announced Warren Veale, professor emeritus and a founding member of the U of C faculty of medicine, would be handed the reigns of the school until a permanent replacement for Weingarten can be found.

Veale, who has served 40 years at the institution, said his time at the U of C has been a long and fulfilling journey, and through his variety of roles at the school, he is prepared to make an even deeper commitment to students' education.

"I've watched the university grow and I am very proud to be part of what has been accomplished in such a short period of time. When I was approached by the Board [of Governors] to take on this role, I felt I could make a contribution to students, staff, faculty and the community," he said.

"Veale's experiences on campus as well as his involvement and connection to the community make him well-suited to assume the leadership of the university," said Board of Governors chair Jack Perraton.

Before coming to the U of C, Veale earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Manitoba, followed by his Master of Science and PhD at Purdue University in Indiana.

Over his career at the institution Veale has served in many roles, including associate dean of the Faculty of Medicine, head of the Department of Medicine Physiology and Biophysics, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and associate dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies. He held the position of dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and associate vice-president (graduate and post-degree programs) for four years and also provided interim leadership to the Institute of Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy. Most recently, Veale was involved in the first phase of the iS2 Project, a university-wide administrative review. Veale also holds the highest honour that can be attained by a scientist in Canada as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

With solid leadership at the university, his time as interim president will be spent building on the successes accomplished to further the quality education students receive, said Veale, something he says he's seen during his time at the school.

"The university has made formidable steps in its young history. We are a young institution that has developed and grown very quickly. We rank among the best in Canada and we continue to build on a tradition of excellence. Our focus is offering outstanding educational opportunity for students and high quality research. We will continue in that vein."

Meanwhile, with president Weingarten scheduled to retire this January after eight years at the U of C, the Presidential Advisory Search Committee is still hoping to have a permanent replacement in place this summer.

The PASC, established last year, has hired search consultants Ray & Berndtson Canada to identify and contact potential applicants through their own search process for qualified candidates.

On its website, Memorial University said "university presidential searches both in Canada and abroad, normally take between six and 10 months to complete -- that is, from the start of the search until the name of the successful candidate is made public."

The Newfoundland-based university had been seeking a new president for over two years, before finally appointing Alberta soil expert Gary Kachanoski on Wednesday.

"While I am not in a position to comment on the search process itself, I am deeply committed to the university," Veale said, when asked if he would stay on as interim president if the presidential search extended past the summer. "If I'm needed, I will consider extending my term."

Veale said that even after a new president is appointed he won't be leaving the university, staying involved through emeritus status.

"It's important to me that I stay connected to the university and be part of its future growth, in whatever capacity that I can. I've been on a long journey with [the] U of C and it is one that I'm not ready to part with quite yet," said Veale.

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