‘Ottawa’ Carleton University President to Step Down for ‘new Leadership Opportunity’
Carleton University president and vice-chancellor Roseann O’Reilly Runte has announced her resignation from the school, effective July 31.
Her resignation, announced at Carleton’s board meeting on Thursday, follows a nine-year career with the school. According to a release from the university, she is leaving to pursue a “new leadership opportunity.” Details on exactly what that will be are to be announced in the coming week, but she’s leaving a hefty paycheque. Carleton’s 2015 salary disclosure revealed she was earning almost $360,000 in salary and roughly $40,000 in taxable benefits.
Chris Caruthers, chair of Carleton’s board of governors, noted that Runte has provided “exceptional and stable leadership” to Carleton since her appointment. “Her top priority has always been our students and the educational mission of the university. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and partners have all benefited from her exemplary leadership and commitment to Carleton.”
According to David Lindsay, president and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities, Runte was successful in leading Carleton’s growth while always keeping its students and the community in mind.
“She was quite proud of the strategic plan they’d done and how she’d expanded the university,” he said from his Toronto office on Friday. “There was a lot of new programming that she was proud of, and really brought some creativity to the job.
“If you walk through the campus today and see some of the new buildings and the new programs, and the enthusiasm of the students that are there, I think it’s a positive success story, for her and for Carleton.
“She was always focused on what the students needed,” he said. “Not just academics, but the culture of the place. She would take on, not just as an academic but as a leader of the organization, the quality of life as well as the quality of the academics.”
Lindsay said that the news of Runte’s resignation came as a surprise.
“She was on a conference call two days ago about an outreach program we have about how to build a conversation for a better future in Ontario, and she’s been participating in those initiatives. She sits on a number of our committees and she’s been engaged in province-wide committees of the Council of Ontario Universities in a meaningful and material way for a number of years.”
Carleton’s first female president, Runte was appointed to the position in January 2008, a dual Canadian-American citizen who left her position as president of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., to come to Ottawa. She replaced Carleton’s acting president, Samy Mahmoud, who served in the position following the abrupt resignation of David Atkinson in November 2006.
Prior to her term at Old Dominion, she had spent seven years as president of Victoria University, an affiliate of the University of Toronto.
The then-59-year-old Runte arrived in Ottawa with a PhD in French literature and a considerable record of community service. She was past president of the Canadian Commission for the United Nations’ education, science and cultural agency, and a former executive member of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. She has also wrote three volumes of French poetry, which, in 1989, won her a prize from the exclusive Académie Française in Paris. In 2002, she was appointed to the Order of Canada.
In Ottawa, she was extremely active in the city’s philanthropic community.
Among Runte’s challenges when she arrived at Carleton were fundraising and improving the university’s academic reputation, but she also presided over numerous difficult issues at the school, including its 2009 firing of sociology lecturer and accused terrorist Hassan Diab, and its mediated out-of-court settlement, that same year, with a student who was suing the school over an unsolved sexual assault. In 2010, the university took control of its frosh week programming away from students, following allegations of inappropriate incidents the previous year. And last year the school was at the centre of a controversy over whether it should acknowledge and use the phrase “rape culture” in its province-mandated policy on sexual violence.