Western's prez joins
The Gazette for a chat
By Anton Vidgen
The Gazette caught up with Western President
Paul Davenport yesterday to talk about deregulated tuition,
freedom fries and retirement.
What political challenges has Western
been facing in recent years?
The fundamental challenge is to accept an increasing number
of students with budgets that lag behind the student numbers
in real terms. There's been a trend for the last 20 years in
budgets that don't keep pace with student enrollment for Ontario
generally and for Western in particular. That shows up in a
rising student-faculty ratio and a rising student-staff ratio
and we need to get those ratios down.
Do you support deregulated undergraduate
I do support deregulated undergraduate tuition. Having taken
that position, I would point out to you, for example, in the
graduate student area, where we've had deregulated fees for
many years, those fees have not been going up rapidly in most
graduate programs. Indeed, we've kept the growth of the fee
in the PhD area at about the same two per cent that we've applied
to the undergraduate students in the regulated programs.
Which is more important to Western:
the humanities or the sciences?
We would be one of those universities, maybe a leading university
in this regard, that has strengths across the board. We traditionally
have a larger share of our budget in the humanities and the
social sciences than the other large research universities.
I'm proud of that fact. That said, we have an enormously strong
faculty in science, and engineering, and medicine and the professional
schools. For a university of our size, it's not a question of
picking only one area, it's identifying strengths across the
university and investing in them.
A game of word association:
The Gazette - Good reporting.
University Students' Council President Paul Yeoman -
Excellent lunch companion.
Ontario Premier Ernie Eves - Involved in a
If you could design a Homecoming float
that would symbolize yourself, what would it look like?
It would have me reading a good book by the Indre river in the
Loire valley (in France) on a sunny day.
As a French knight, what do you think
about french fries being renamed freedom fries in the United
The links between the American people and the French people
are profound and are of historical importance. Frankly I thought
it was sad to see the extremely negative reaction. I hope these
two great countries can get back together again.
What are your personal pursuits?
I enjoy biking - I wish I had more time for that. Jazz music
- I've just been on the CHRW [94.7 FM] jazz show with Barney
Booth today. And impressionist painting - I like not only viewing
the paintings but reading about it.
When your presidential term
expires, what do you plan to do?
My current contract is for my third term
at Western that finishes in 2009 when I'll be 62 years old and
I promised my wife that I'll retire at that time. It's the one
clause in our marriage contract [laughs].