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On the Leavitt departure

The mystery that shrouds the sudden resignation and departure of Dr. Anne Leavitt from the King’s presidency over the summer after only 11 months on the job continues to baffle even the most astutely engaged of King’s people. After all, we know that the president had been signed to a multi-year contract and was midway through implementing controversial initiatives of fiscal restraint that notably excluded important segments of the King’s community from the decision-making process. Projects and term incomplete, there seemed no clear reason for her departure.
Only those who occupy seats at the Board of Governors will know the exact causes for Dr. Leavitt’s resignation. However, their reactions to the resignation provide some hints for the rest of us. “I think she (was) having trouble dealing with different aspects of the community… and I think she realized that it was time for her to go,” Nick Stark, president of the KSU and member of the Board of Governors, was quoted as saying in the Toronto Star. What we can deduce is that Dr. Leavitt left, through her own volition or otherwise, as a result of her struggle to work and communicate with the rest of the King’s community. Her style was abrasive, often opposed to consensus building, and the community, particularly students, clashed with her as a result. Indeed, the departure has been met with a total reversal in tone on the part of the King’s administration.
The newly appointed interim president, Dr. George Cooper, recently described his position on budgetary decisions in The Dalhousie Gazette: “That’s something we have to compromise on and agree on as a community…”. Further, his emphasis on fostering a healthy relationship with students serves to show he wants to open up doors that Dr. Leavitt had previously shut. For students, this shift means two things. Firstly, that the hard work that we put into opposing Dr. Leavitt’s policies last year was worthwhile and secondly, that we are now in a good position to state our case firmly with regards to the financial direction of the college.
Gabe Hoogers
KSU President, 2011-12

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

15 replies on “On the Leavitt departure”

I am not a member of the community at Kings, but I know enough of the story of Dr. Leavitt’s experiences there (from various sources, including Dr. Leavitt, who is a good friend and a colleague of many years standing) to realize that the events at Kings (in which you played a significant part) were a good deal more complicated than you suggest. And it is certainly odd that Dr. Leavitt, after many years of working very successfully as a senior administrator and earning an excellent reputation for her relationships with faculty and students, should so quickly and unexpectedly come to grief at Kings. I can understand why you wish to present only your side of the story and to “celebrate” what you clearly see as a victory for students, but I hope your readers will not confuse your account with the whole truth of the matter.
Ian Johnston
Vancouver Island University

You can’t complain that there is misinformation out there if you refuse to actually publicly explain the other side of the story and instead rely on sending your friends onto the internet to make vague claims that there whole truth is being suppressed.

I worked under Anne Leavitt for a few years when she was Dean at Vancouver Island University. What is described here is entirely consistent with my experiences there. I suppose she looked good on paper!

One is allowed to be anonymous in these responses? Why? Dr. Leavitt is no longer at VIU or Kings, and therefore cannot touch you. Why not stand up and be proud of and stand behind what you have to say? Otherwise, this could just as well have come from another axe grinder at Kings, even Gabe himself.
I am not a parent, not sure why that is showing up as my status.

She is no longer at VIU or King’s, but she can still touch me nonetheless and my career already bears deep scars from working under her. I sincerely wish I had the liberty to say more.

Hi Sarah. Here, the term “parent” is used to refer to the post to which you are responding. If you hover your mouse over the word, you’ll find it’s a link to the original comment.

My guess is that we will never know the facts of the “departure” and further that letters to the editor are probably not the best venue to discover those facts. It’s a given that Anne’s friends will praise her and her enemies will condemn her. Personnel matters are usually handled in camera.

Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance. This article is so very bias and has so many generalizations, I’m surprised that it was granted publication in this magazine. I understand that you’re the President of KSU, but how does that give you any right to assume a state of mind for all the students of the school? What you’ve quoted and concluded was also invalid. All you’ve stated was “we think, we can deduce, we can hint at…” Where is the validity in these statements? I’ve heard the stories that have lurked around this topic, mainly from friends at the school, and good lord people, there is a lot more to this story that what’s been stated. From the students perspective, or at least those that are competent enough to understand the messy politics of the school, I can safely say this story is one-sided. Whoever granted this article publishing rights has shamed Journalists far and wide.

A few things here:
First, it’s not an article. It’s a letter to the editor.
Second, when he said “we”, he was speaking of the group of students who worked opposing Leavitt’s policies; not all King’s students.
Third, he never said that any of his conclusion were concrete; in fact, he explicitly labels them as speculation.
Finally, there is no student publication on earth that, upon the untimely resignation of the school president, would not publish a letter to the editor from the former President of the KSU. Especially one so reasonable.

Hi Andrew. Please note this was published not as a journalistic article, but as a letter to the editors. As the editors-in-chief of this magazine, we believe in allowing members of the King’s community to express their opinions, which we then clearly label as such. Our news article of Dr. Leavitt’s resignation can be found here: http://watchmagazine.ca/2012/06/president-anne-leavitt-resigns/.
– Rachel Ward and Ben Harrison, Editors-in-Chief

Bob (Lane) has it right: it isn’t clear why we should trust Anne Leavitt’s own version of events to her friends or her detractors’ speculations about what went on behind closed doors.
Still, it was my impression from articles I read elsewhere that Leavitt really had openly excluded previously involved groups of individuals from decision-making processes at King’s. Unless those reports are inaccurate, mentioning those publicly known facts here (as Gabe Hoogers does) should not be anything controversial.
Is there any reason to doubt that she did in fact exclude those individuals from decision-making, etc.?

Hoogers has had a very weird mad-on for Leavitt from the moment she arrived. She shut down an advisory committee that faculty felt was a complete waste of time, and the Board, not Leavitt, decided that a student other than him would serve would serve on another financial committee. Leavitt gave students a food advisory committee, the canteen, and got funding for the Chaplain. Hoogers’ issues are seen by most students as bizarre.

As a member of both the food advisory committee and the committee that founded the canteen, I can say with certainty that Leavitt was a regressive force when it came to food politics on campus. Every gain made on that front came from the hard efforts of the King’s Students’ Union. Let’s not forget that before she resigned, in secret and in violation of board procedure, she secretly resigned the Sodexo contract.

Come on, Etherington. those of us outside the fanatical clique of the KSU know you never met with Leavitt once. You don’t even sit on the Board.

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