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Walden marching into sunset
By Wes Brown
For nine and a half years, Jim Walden has put the 'general' in the University Students' Council general manager position.
However, at the end of this year, the retired military colonel will be officially stepping away from his role with the USC.
Walden, who formally announced his upcoming retirement on Aug. 22, said he began considering departing a couple of years ago. "I recently celebrated my 60th birthday and this will be the transition to a new life," he said.
Walden said he arrived at Western before the expansion of the University Community Centre and explained the USC was quartered in poor accommodations on the second floor. "At that time, the UCC was not very community friendly and there was a lot of overcrowding. In 1989 the students voted to take over 98 per cent of the mortgage payments for the UCC and thus take control over the building."
Walden downplayed his role as GM and talked about his supporting role with the USC. "I was hired to be the corporate memory and a type of continuity. I don't think anything has been a direct result of any of the initiatives I have had."
The USC is currently in the process of searching for a new GM and Walden said he is not worried about future prospects. "I think change is essential in any organization. The USC changes every year and I guess the GM changes every nine and a half years."
USC president Dave Braun said he and the entire board of directors are sad to see Walden go. He added the outgoing GM has been one of the most influential players in the USC's evolution over the past nine years.
"When he came into this position, the USC didn't have control over the [UCC] building, didn't own The Wave and did not have many of the services we take for granted today," he said.
Braun said the search for a new GM is ongoing is confident his successor will have an easy transition into the new role.
"We're really fortunate in the sense that Jim is not leaving to go to another job and he has said that he will provide enough adequate time and assistance for the incoming GM to become comfortable with the new job."
Western's VP-administration, Peter Mercer, who began working with Walden approximately seven years ago when dealing with the change in occupancy of the UCC, said he hoped the loss of continuity within the USC was not imminent.
"Our regular meetings with the USC and Jim were a time where we could bring things forward in a type of 'grab bag' of issues, which I thought was a good way to handle any topics," Mercer said. "I imagine Jim will be looking forward to some time off."