Q+A: Roseann Runte reflects on presidency

After nine years of serving as the president and vice-chancellor of Carleton University, Roseann Runte has left the school to become president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Alastair Summerlee, who served two terms as president and vice-chancellor at the University of Guelph, is Runte’s interim successor.

The Charlatan interviewed Runte via email about her experience as Carleton’s president as she reflected on her nine years at the university one last time.

The Charlatan (TC): You have been Carleton’s president for nine years. How has Carleton changed over this time?

Roseann Runte (RR): Every accomplishment was the result of strong team efforts and I recognize and thank all the faculty, staff, students and alumni for their contributions to these achievements. 

Together, we created and implemented two strategic plans. These plans focused on building sustainable communities and on interdisciplinary research and teaching, particularly in the areas of health, the environment, information and digital technology, and globalization.

Over nine years, 74 new academic programs were created to meet student interest, societal needs and faculty expertise. Many extracurricular programs, such as the Alternate Spring Break, Relay for Life, Shinerama, [Fall] Orientation, Terry’s Cause, and TEDx talks, were started or improved collaboratively with students. 

We raised $230 million for the endowment fund and awarded 12,203 scholarships and bursaries valued at over $20 million in the 2016-17 academic year.

In addition, nine faculty chairs were funded.

TC: You’ve seen some controversies over the years, such as backlash against the Sexual Violence Policy. What guided your response to these contentious issues?

RR: The process followed in developing the [Sexual Violence] Policy was highly consultative. Every student had the opportunity to submit comments and suggestions. The final policy received strong student support and was approved by the Board [of Governors].

Some students opposed the policy and continue to do so. I hope that everyone will come together as the policy is implemented. The policy will be tested by time and experience, and will be reviewed and revised in due course as provided for in the policy itself—again, in a consultative fashion.

TC: What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

RR: It has been a privilege to serve Carleton, and I am sure that the fine work done here will continue and will be ever more recognized for its excellence and innovation as we move into the next 75 years of our existence. 

I thank all for their commitment to Carleton University. I am sure that you will continue on the trajectory of success.

TC: Your successor is Alastair Summerlee. What are your thoughts?

RR: It is a great pleasure to know that Carleton will be in the excellent hands of Dr. Alastair Summerlee. He is a recognized leader in post-secondary education, having served most successfully as president and vice chancellor of [University of] Guelph. I am certain he will be a wonderful interim president for Carleton.

TC: What are your hopes for the university moving forward?

RR: I wish every one of you strength and wisdom to meet any challenges that arise. You are members of an incredibly strong team and will steer a fine course as you build sustainability at Carleton and sustainable communities for the world.