Provost brings new perspectives

The newly appointed vice-president academic and provost, Prof. Ian Orchard, recently expressed his excitement and aspirations for the position. He was also able to discuss issues relevant to the students of the University of Waterloo. 

Orchard possesses substantial experience in areas of research, teaching, and administration; he has previously worked extensively as an administrator at the University of Toronto, where one of his many accomplishments includes leading the growth and development of the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus.

Orchard is looking forward to beginning at UW in July, and he prefaced his interview by saying:

“Let me begin by just saying how delighted and privileged I am to have been appointed Vice-President Academic and Provost of the University of Waterloo. I think I was looking for a new challenge, and I was looking for a place where I thought I could contribute and make a difference.

“I saw some parallels with my own ideology … [the] community, innovation, creativity, a student-centered research community; these are things I want to participate in, and be part of, so all in all, it was actually the overall excitement of the place that attracted me.”

When asked about the goals and challenges of the position, Prof. Orchard mentioned his desire to “meet the various members of the community and understand ‘the Waterloo way’.”

“My overall goals are to ensure that the university successfully implements the strategic plan, the 2013 plan … I think it’s a wonderful roadmap that outlines Waterloo’s distinctive future, and it has a very comprehensive series of priorities.”

As for challenges he said, “I think that ones that our university should consider would be including enhancing the student experience, and that would be both curricular and co-curricular. I think also, strategic enrolment management is very important to a university.”

“In enrolment, it’s not only recruiting the best students but also attracting the best faculty and staff. And I think finally, also managing the university in quite a challenging economic climate.” 

He recognizes the value of the education at UW, calling it a “research-intensive university,” as well as emphasizing the priority on UW students.

He expanded by saying; “I think teaching feeds on research, and research feeds on teaching… that has to be brought there into the classroom.

“[The students] need to be exposed to be people who are extending and enhancing the research field. By bringing that excitement to the classroom, I think it engages and encourages students in their own lines of study and discipline.”  

He once again demonstrated his passion for the student body and wide scope of vision when asked about international students and their experiences.

“It all revolves around the student experience, it revolves around making all students have a global outlook, and so I think it’s not all just about international students.

“Rather than single out one group, I think one has to look at the student body as a whole, and look for a global outlook from the student body, and then put into place mechanisms that can help a global outlook. And that includes both domestic students and international students.”

He was not afraid of taking on new challenges unique to the University of Waterloo student experience itself either:

“I will be honest and say I have a lot to learn about co-op education, and it is not something I have much experience in. This is one of the learning curves that I will go through the next few months.”


<em>&mdash; with files from</em> Hongyu Zhang