© Dan Callis
On Feb. 5 Acadia Unversity president Ray Ivany told the university's board of governors that he will be retiring in June of 2017.
WOLFVILLE - Following his October heart attack and a “proverbial walk in the snow,” Acadia University’s 15th president will end his second term two years early.
On Feb. 5, Ray Ivany told the university's board of governors that he will be retiring in June 2017.
“This was one of the most difficult decisions of my life,” he repeated in an interview with the Kings County Advertiser.
“In my time here, I have discovered the same Acadia magic that attracts students from around the world. Acadia’s faculty and staff have built a unique environment that touches both the head and the heart in a way that challenges you to be your very best.”
He told faculty in an e-mail message, “Like all of you, I love this university and I believe passionately in the rigorous and personalized educational model that you bring to life every day.”
When Ivany came to Acadia in 2009, he recalled his priorities were to boost enrolment, “while never losing sight of the fundamental values that have made Acadia one of Canada’s best universities.”
Ivany says Acadia’s faculty makes a “commitment to excellence and the delivery of a unique student experience that touches the head and heart in equal measure.”
His connection with students is vital, he says. Speaking about the 500 students who volunteer with the SMILE program, Ivany believes that Acadia students develop skills to make the world a better place.
At each convocation ceremony, he aims to challenge them to take the capacity they’ve garnered and make a difference.
‘Won’t be easy’
Ivany said he set a departure date knowing that Acadia’s finances are much stronger, so tenure-track faculty numbers can begin to regrow. He is excited to see six or seven teaching jobs opening up.
“This is an incredibly powerful educational model, and Acadia deserves its reputation as one of Canada’s best universities,” Ivany said.
“Leaving Acadia won’t be easy. However, my recent health issues have caused me to reflect deeply on how I need to shape my life in the years to come and I feel that accelerating my retirement date is an appropriate first step.”
He says his prognosis is good, but acknowledged “a troubling family history.”
The 60-year-old says his health scare prompted him to set new priorities and left him with a desire “for no regrets later.” That’s why the decision was so difficult.
Ivany also wanted to thank alumni for the ongoing support, “which means a lot to me.” He pointed out the recent renovation of Patterson Hall was accomplished because 20 alumni donated $100,000 each. Financial support for Acadia has increased by almost 200 per cent since 2012, reaching an all-time one-year high of more than $8 million in 2014.
Reflecting on his priorities in 2009, Ivany said he believes Acadia is “more hopeful, more sustainable and more transparent today.”
Using a family analogy, he said, “It has been an honour to serve Acadia’s faculty, staff, students and alumni during the past seven years and I am looking forward to continuing to work on our agenda over the next 17 months.”
Board of governors
Acadia’s board of governors will begin preparing for the search for Ivany’s successor and will release details of that process in the near future. But, on Feb. 5, board chairman Paul Jewer was focused on thanking Ivany.
“It’s hard for our board to put into words the gratitude we feel toward Ray for the extraordinary contribution he has made to Acadia,” he said.
“Since his arrival in April of 2009, Ray has been at the forefront of leading change both on our campus and within our province.”
Under Ivany’s leadership, Acadia’s full-time undergraduate enrolment has grown by 25 per cent after reaching a 20-year low in 2008.
Four years ago, Ivany was named the chairman of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building Our New Economy. Known widely as the Ivany Report, it has become the blueprint for the province’s economic development plans and priorities.
Last June, Ivany was named the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year. Canada’s Public Policy Forum will also honour Ivany at their upcoming Atlantic awards in March.
Did you know?
A Cape Breton native with a working class background, Ray Ivany served chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia and as president of the Nova Scotia Community College from 1998 to 2005.