Publisher to president?

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By Joel Wass

The soon-to-be ex-publisher of the Toronto Star was approached about two or more soon-to-be vacant positions at Ryerson, said a source close to the newspaper executive.

The source would not confirm which positions John Honderich was approached about. However, it is apparent that some people at the university think Honderich would be an ideal replacement for Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse when his term ends next July. Honderich, 57, is stepping down as the Star’s publisher on May 5.

“I think he’d be swell,” said the Chair of the Ryerson School of Journalism Vince Carlin, who has known Honderich professionally for the past 10 years. “Very recently he has been good to the school.”

Honderich presented the journalism school with a $1 million cheque in 2001, which went towards improving computer labs.

On Jan. 25, Torstar Corporation announced Honderich was leaving. It was speculated that Honderich’s departure was necessary because of his tumultuous relationship with Torstar President and CEO Robert Prichard.

RyeSAC president-elect Dave MacLean said hiring a high-profile figure like Honderich would improve Ryerson’s image.

“We need a president that can enhance the university academically, but at the same time we need someone who is known in the community that can promote Ryerson,” MacLean said.

Ira Levine, dean of the faculty of communication and design, said it’s too early for Ryerson to be wishing upon the Star publisher just yet.

“This is wildly premature, we don’t even have a search committee yet,” said Levine, who was part of the search committee that hired Lajeunesse nine years ago. “We don’t even have a profile developed for the next president … there are a lot of potential candidates, but I am not going to start commenting about them without seeing applications, CVs, or anything like that.”

The members of the presidential search committee will be announced this month.

Other people that have been mentioned as potential candidates for president are Trent University President Bonnie Patterson, former Ryerson vice president academic Dennic Mock and Peter Herndorff, CEO of the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

University sources said Herndorff has inquired about the presidential search and is apparently interested in the position.

If Honderich were to accept a job at Ryerson, he’d be taking a huge pay cut. In 2002, Honderich made more than $626,000, while Lajeunesse’s salary was less than $236,000 for the same year.

University sources speculated the other position Honderich was approached about was probably the chair of the journalism school. Carlin is vacating the position this year and says Honderich is more than qualified to fill his shoes.

Honderich would not comment on the story prior to The Eyeopener’s deadline.

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