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Presidency Review

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Presidency Review

Trent University Presidency Review

Dear Trent Community,

On April 5, 2018, the Trent University’s Board of Governors announced the reappointment of Dr. Leo Groarke for a second five-year term as president and vice-chancellor of Trent University, commencing July 1, 2019 through to June 30, 2024, under a new presidential mandate that continues to emphasize sustainability, stewardship and innovation as key themes.

The reappointment of President Groarke follows an extensive Review of the Presidency by an advisory committee comprising external, staff, faculty and student members of the Board, along with faculty and student senators. In making the announcement on the reappointment and presidential mandate, the Committee noted: “the very high degree of commonality in proposed priorities for the University over the next five years…and a strong sense of pride in the direction and accomplishments of the University under the current mandate.”

Sue Graham Parker, vice-chair of the Trent University Board of Governors, chaired the Advisory Committee to Review the Presidency. “We had excellent responses to our online survey along with some direct email input, group sessions and one-on-one meetings,” said Ms. Graham Parker. “Overall, it was a very successful information-gathering exercise and we received substantial and valuable feedback from our many stakeholders. What has been clearly conveyed, and a common thread throughout, is an optimistic view for our future success. I want to thank everyone for taking the time to contribute feedback and insights to this important process.”

“The Board is delighted to announce the reappointment of President Groarke and express the extent to which support for the current presidency and the positive results related to its first mandate, was evident in the Committee’s findings,” said Stephen Kylie, chair of Trent’s Board of Governors. “In reappointing President Groarke and defining the next presidential mandate, the Board is eager to continue the positive momentum underway at the University’s two campuses. We wish to thank the entire campus community and other stakeholders who helped to provide insights and perspective during the review of the presidency.”

Dr. Groarke said, “I am delighted to be renewed for another term at Trent, where I work with an exceptional team of administrators, faculty and staff. I consider myself lucky to have joined the University at the beginning of its fiftieth anniversary celebrations, and to have the opportunity to help prepare it for another fifty exceptional years under the guidance of the Board, and in partnership with students, alumni, and our local communities. Together, we are building an institution with a storied history that promises to be even stronger in the future.”

President Groarke was appointed president and vice-chancellor of Trent in 2014. Since his arrival, he has restructured Trent’s budget and marketing, recruitment, and admissions operations and completed reviews implementing recommendations on retention, internationalization and Traill College. Since his appointment, the University has taken strides in enrolment success; the expansion of facilities on the Symons Campus in Peterborough – ushering in a new Student Centre, the revitalization of Bata Library and the development of the Cleantech Commons; plus a new master plan that will accommodate growth at Trent’s Durham campus in the Greater Toronto Area.

Prior to joining Trent University, Dr. Groarke served as vice-president, academic and provost at University of Windsor, and as principal/vice-president of the Brantford Campus of Wilfrid Laurier University, where he spearheaded the development of a new and highly successful campus that has, in partnership with the City, become a model for downtown revitalization in Canada.

The new presidential mandate emphasizes five priorities: Academic, Cultural, Environmental, Operational, and Reputational, along with six Leadership Competencies.


The support, integration and enhancement of excellent programs across the arts, sciences and professional programs; high-quality research and exemplary teaching through:

  • Innovative programming and delivery methods
  • Experiential/hands on learning
  • Evolution of library services
  • Integration/differentiation between Durham GTA and Peterborough campuses
  • Continued emphasis on teaching excellence
  • Renewed focus on research
  • Long term hiring plans to address attrition of expertise
  • Communication and consultation with academic stakeholders


The protection and furthering of the University’s unique identity by enhancing and embedding the following in the organizational framework and campus environment:

  • Diversity, respect and inclusion infrastructure
  • Manageable class sizes with accessibility to faculty
  • Sense of community, including Colleges
  • Ensuring capacity meets requirements
  • Open and transparent internal consultation and communication processes
  • Workplace satisfaction and people development – faculty, administration and staff
  • Alumni engagement


The development of a comprehensive vision and approach to environmental stewardship that encompasses the University’s commitment to:

  • Visible leadership
  • General awareness
  • Academic programming
  • Capital infrastructure
  • Trent lands conservation considerations
  • Well-defined consultation processes
  • Recognition of Indigenous heritage
  • Research

Operational (Financial and Management)

Management of a process of change, including the establishment of a long-term integrated financial plan that includes, but is not exclusive to:

  • Operational excellence through supporting and implementing sustainability and innovation in strategic change
  • Community partnerships
  • Multi-year budget planning (including buffers for potential fluctuations, e.g. enrolment)
  • Government relations and advocacy (including contingencies for changes in political environment)
  • Student attraction and retention strategies
  • Durham campus expansion
  • Pension plan transition
  • Endowment lands stewardship
  • Philanthropy development
  • Creative financing and revenue opportunities


The preparation and maintenance of a fluid and comprehensive communications plan that ensures:

  • Active risk management
  • Forward thinking and preparation for potential issues
  • An effective social media platform
  • Alignment of marketing to the student experience
  • Research, expert and leadership visibility
  • Capitalization on the University’s existing standing as a prestigious yet approachable liberal arts and science school

Leadership Competencies

The President is accountable to the Board of Governors and provides operational leadership for all aspects of university affairs, both internal and external, to ensure the performance, societal contribution, and vitality of the institution. Working with many different stakeholders the President is the principal spokesperson and face of the university and is accountable for the University’s reputation, partnerships, academic and senior administration, resources, the student experience and academic programming.

Referencing the 2014-2019 Mandate, a President needs “to be highly engaged both externally and internally” to lead the University successfully. With the expectations outlined in the new proposed mandate, a President also requires the support of a highly skilled, diverse and inspiring leadership team who are willing and capable delegates.

The ideal leader will exhibit excellence in:

  • Vision: An inspiring trailblazer who can combine the goals, priorities and values of the University into a compelling vision of present and future success that engages all stakeholders.
  • Communication: An empathetic, inclusive, collaborative and articulate community builder who is approachable, accessible and able to build relationships with diverse audiences.
  • Integrity: A credible, self-motivated and passionate advocate, who exhibits self-awareness, high personal standards and a commitment to community service.
  • Management: The ability to: make decisions in an environment of diverse opinions and uncertainty while exercising sound judgement; maintain accountability while delegating authority and; coach and mentor a diverse, highly-skilled team.
  • Perseverance: A confident, calm, optimistic and determined individual who continues to persevere in a stressful environment and can withstand the physical and mental demands of the job, including domestic and international travel and routinely long hours. 
  • Flexibility: An adaptable, open-minded, creative thinker who thrives in an environment of constantly evolving issues, influences and uncontrollable external forces.

Stephen Kylie, Chair, Trent University Board of Governors and

Sue Graham Parker, Chair, Advisory Committee to Review the Presidency, and Vice-Chair, Trent University Board of Governors

Help Trent Define What Happens Next

A key responsibility of the Trent University Board of Governors is the appointment and review of the President and Vice-Chancellor.  2017-18 marks the penultimate year of President Groarke’s current term as president of Trent University, with the term ending on June 30, 2019. 

The Trent University Board of Governors has established an advisory committee comprised of Board Members, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Students and Senators to conduct a review of the University presidency over the coming months. The first phase of this review will establish a new presidential mandate for 2019-2024.  Key to the successful development of this new mandate is input from our many University stakeholders, internal and external, to ensure we fully identify the challenges, opportunities and priorities for the next presidential term.

The Review Process

Phase 1 - Development of Presidential Mandate

Phase 2 - Presidential Attributes/Review of Incumbent
Board of Governors establishes an Advisory Committee to Review the Presidency (June 2017) Based on feedback from on-line survey and additional written submissions (if applicable), advisory committee identifies key presidential attributes/profile (February 2018)
Confirm membership, review process and timelines for advisory Committee (June - September 2017) Review of incumbent president (February 2018)
Develop website and on-line survey (early October 2017) Final report to Board of Governors (March 2018)
Launch community consultation process (October - November 2017)  
Development of draft presidential mandate  
Approval of new presidential mandate - Board of Governors (February 2018)  

Your Part in the Review of the Presidency

Key to the success of this review is consultation amongst our many University stakeholders, internal and external, to fully identify the challenges, opportunities and priorities for the next presidential term.

The primary resource to assist the committee in this important work is the  on-line survey.  We strongly encourage you to take the time to complete this survey, either as an individual or based on discussion with colleagues within your department/program. The deadline for survey responses is November 17, 2017. 



About Trent University

One of Canada's top universities, Trent University was founded on the ideal of interactive learning that's personal, purposeful and transformative. Consistently recognized nationally for leadership in teaching, research and student satisfaction, Trent attracts excellent students from across the country and around the world. Here, undergraduate and graduate students connect and collaborate with faculty, staff and their peers through diverse communities that span residential colleges, classrooms, disciplines, hands-on research, co-curricular and community-based activities.

Across all disciplines, Trent brings critical, integrative thinking to life every day. Today, Trent's unique approach to personal development through supportive, collaborative community engagement is in more demand than ever. Students lead the way by co-creating experiences rooted in dialogue, diverse perspectives and collaboration. In a learning environment that builds life-long passion for inclusion, leadership and social change, Trent's students, alumni, faculty and staff are engaged global citizens who are catalysts in developing sustainable solutions to complex issues.

Trent's Peterborough campus boasts award-winning architecture in a breathtaking natural setting on the banks of the Otonabee River, just 90 minutes from downtown Toronto, while Trent University Durham Greater Toronto Area, delivers a distinct mix of programming in the east GTA.