2016 is shaping up to be quite a news-worthy year. Already we seem to be inundated with new stories and updates, day-in and day-out on the race for the next president of the United States. Yet, locally in 2016, Niagara will focus on finding the next president of Brock.
As Dr. Jack Lightstone prepares to depart the University after nearly a decade at the helm there are some worthwhile takeaways to note. The fateful dance with financial peril has left the university divided, and while this is something we see we cannot allow this divide to become our identity. When a student looks to apply to Brock University they do not see the academics or the faculty or the staff or the Senior administration, even for most students, graduates and alumni, these divisions do not exist beyond a simple sheet of paper. That is where these divisions should remain. At the end of the day, there’s only one Brock and we all have the same goal; we want success for the students and for the institution.
In the last 10 years, Brock has become a high class institution with a core that can hold its own on the provincial and national stages. That being said, this is not the peak of Brock’s success. Brock still languishes in its identity, its persona, lacking a presence of culture that would make it instantly recognizable. The next President must work to achieve this, to chart a new direction for Brock and work with various stakeholder groups to address concerns that may arise in a way that satisfies those parties and addresses key shortfalls.
If we use a ship analogy, the University now sits as a middle-aged warship, stuck in a dead calm upon the ocean. With no wind in the sails, listing ever more as it slowly takes on water from battle scars that were never fully mended. A storm can be seen approaching, dark and foreboding on the horizon, all the while the crew bickers and fights over scrubbing the keel, furling the mainsail and rationing what grog and rum, mutton and other limited food stuffs remain in the ships hold.
Our ship needs a captain, a captain who will bring together the crew, settle the fighting over the rations and set to the crew to work patching the leaks in the hull. A captain who will inspire us to row in the longboats to turn the ship around, to row to position ourselves to catch the wind at the cusp of the storm. We need a captain who will drive this crew to redirect this ship and ultimately, plot a course for where we will sail to next.
Brock is a beautiful ship, it has a fine and seasoned seafaring crew, it’s battered, bruised and battle tested, toting a large debt and financial problems. While it’s not the fastest, the biggest or the tallest, it’s nimble, strong and ready. We need a captain who will recognize that Brock is neither young, nor old, but is approaching its prime.