The year of interim

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By Vidya Kauri

Ryerson has been reshuffling its faculty over the summer, leaving many deans and chairs in temporary positions.

“It seems to be the year of interim positions,” said Darrick Heyd, Interim Associate Dean for the Undergraduate Science Program and Student Affairs.

Such temporary positions, typically lasting a year, could have an effect on faculty planning.

“Sometimes it’s challenging for these people because they’re unable to develop any kind of plan or vision that could take that unit through to the next five years,” said Ontario Institute for Studies in Education professor Glen Jones.

“The notion is that you have to be in the position for long enough to actually get things happening and that often takes a year, and year and a half to do the planning exercises to get a unit to a position where it can move forward.”

Although the FEAS is not alone in having interim deans and chairs, it does currently have a large proportion of them.

“A number of the chair searches didn’t materialize and we had to choose an interim,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy.

“In other cases like the VP of Research we just didn’t have time to put in place the search between the leaving and the person coming.”

Dr. Darrick Heyd, interim associate dean for the Undergraduate Science Program and Student Affairs said the current situation is, “the consequence of other positions.”

His predecessor Dr. Chris Evans, was promoted to Vice Provost, Academic before his term expired and somebody had to be found quickly to fill his shoes.

This meant Heyd had to leave his position as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biology, with Stephen Wylie chosen to fill the vacancy until a search committee could be formed to appoint a permanent chair.

The search committee’s role involves establishing a set of criteria that a person must meet. They usually meet just before the winter term to establish these criteria and advertise a position. If all goes well, they aim to interview candidates in February and make a decision by March or April so that the new employee can begin the position on July 1st.

A less formal and shorter consultation process is used to appoint interim deans and chairs when a vacancy has to be filled quickly. Dr. Heyd was ushered into his new role on June 1st after the dean requested chairs of various science departments to put forward names for the job.

He consulted various individuals and Dr. Heyd was chosen for his outstanding experience, achievements, willingness and ability to fill a position of authority on short notice.

Similarly, Dr. Debora Foster, the interim dean in the School of Graduate Studies, was chosen because of her reputation from her contributions to cellular microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry, as well her substantial involvement in the Graduate Studies office and her energetic nature.

In the case of Dr. Ana Pejović Milić, the interim chair of physics, the committee search failed because those recommended by the committee could not be enticed to leave their current positions and a new search committee would have to be formed, said Dr. Heyd.

“It does seem to be the year of interim positions. Hopefully, by next year, we’ll have it all sorted out,” said Dr. Heyd.

Photo: Lauren Strapagiel

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