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Board of Governors chair Perraton leaves university

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Change in the high ranks of the University of Calgary's governing structure continues with Board of Governors chair Jack Perraton announcing his departure this past week.

After more than a dozen years at the school, Perraton said he made the decision to spend more time with his family and on other volunteer obligations.

"I'm 64 turning 65, it's really time to look at my age and time availability," said Perraton, who first sat on the board in 1998 as chancellor. "I've made promises to my family and I'm going to keep those promises by reducing some of my workload."

Students' Union president Lauren Webber said Perraton will be missed for his work on behalf of the school and students.

"I'm sad that Jack's leaving," said Webber. "He has been so good for the Students' Union especially, and students as a whole. He's been a champion on all the advocacy issues that we push for and he's very fair to students."

Webber said that with so much change at the school - a new president and chancellor were both recently chosen - the departure was partially expected.

Perraton's exit comes at the same time as another long-time board member. Vice-chair Charlie Fischer, who served on and off the university board for the last 12 years, also announced his intentions to retire. Fischer said Perraton has been a champion for students and the university during his tenure.

"He absolutely lives and breathes the university," said Fischer. "I think he's done a terrific job for the university over the years and after a dozen years he probably has earned his retirement."

Perraton said he has been a part of the school during a period of growth, overseeing infrastructure projects that have allowed the U of C to expand and grow its programs and capacity.

"I think the rise of this institution as a force in many areas where the expertise and the quality of education the U of C provides is second to none," Perraton said. "I take great pride in watching the institution grow in those areas and succeed as it has."

One of the accomplishments Perraton said he feels strongest about is improving the school's relationship with students.

"We've worked very hard at letting the students know that they are the reason we're there, letting them know that we care very much about what we provide, letting them take part in the process and work with them so they know and understand that the things we do we try to do in the best interest of the students," Perraton said.

Perraton also helped helm the search for the school's latest president, which he called a personal highlight of his role as chair.

"Over the last number of years we've been able to put together the fundamentals that I think are formative to be a much stronger institution as we go forward," he said.

Fischer, whose wife Joanne Cuthbertson left her position as chancellor this year, was first brought onto the BOG in the 1990s to serve a term of six years before leaving for five and returning again for this latest stretch ending in March. Fischer said despite Perraton's contributions to the school, it is important to have turnover in these positions to promote new ideas.

"To the extent that I've been able to help, I feel good about that but I also think that with all of these institutions you need renewal," Fischer said. "You can't just stay forever. After having spent a dozen years here other people need to be involved as well."

"I think renewal is good, it causes new discussions, maybe it causes other ideas and that's how you develop. If you just keep doing the same old things, you never progress beyond them."

The search for a new BOG chair will be carried out by the provincial government.

Fischer said the school won't have to wait long for a replacement.

"I think there will be an appointment relatively quickly," said Fischer. "I don't think we will be without a chair for very long."

Perraton said a part of him doesn't want to leave the school where he's been so involved over the years.

"I love the University of Calgary, it's been a joy to be a part of it," Perraton said. "I'm hoping that I'll find ways to be a part of this institution as it goes forward because I think it has a brilliant future."

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