Policy 50 – The President of the University

Established:​ October 2, 1973 

Last updated:​ February 26, 2007 

​Class:​ A

1. General

The President of the University provides leadership in all matters internal and external.

The President, according to the terms of the University of Waterloo Act, 1972, is to be appointed by the Board of Governors in such manner and for such term or terms as shall be determined, from time to time, by agreement of the Board of Governors and the Senate.

2. Qualifications, Duties and Responsibilities

The President should be a person of academic stature with a proven record of leadership and administrative experience.

The President has responsibility for administering the affairs of the University, and shall act on behalf of the Board of Governors with respect to the operational management and control of the University. The President is responsible for overseeing and upholding policies and for maintaining the intellectual independence and integrity of the University by exercising academic leadership in both internal and external matters. In particular, the President should foster an environment which promotes excellence in teaching and research. As Chair of the Senate and member of the Board of Governors, the President has the responsibility to work with and advise these two bodies, which have ultimate authority over the University's affairs.

During a period of temporary absence, the President is empowered to delegate authority to the Vice-President, Academic & Provost or, if the Vice-President, Academic & Provost is not available, to one of the other senior academic officers of the University according to an order of precedence that shall be announced from time to time.

3. Term of Office

  1. The term of office of the President of the University is normally six years, renewable for six years to a maximum of 12 years.
  2. Reappointment beyond a second consecutive term should be considered unusual and will occur only if there are compelling reasons, as specified by the nominating committee, along with strong support throughout the University community.
  3. If the President's Office becomes vacant through death, resignation, or other causes, it is the responsibility of the Board of Governors, in consultation with the Vice-President, Academic & Provost and other senior University Officers, to appoint an interim President to serve until a nominating committee has finished its work.

4. Appointment and Reappointment Procedures

A. Appointment of a Nominating Committee

When nominations for the President of the University are required, as through notice of resignation, death or the approaching end of a term, a nominating committee shall be formed by the Chair of the Board of Governors. The nominating committee shall normally be formed no earlier than 18 months and no later than one full calendar year prior to the end of the term of office of the incumbent.

The nominating committee shall consist of:

  • The Chair of the Board of Governors, who shall chair the committee.
  • The Vice-Chairman of the Board of Governors, who shall serve as Vice-Chairman.
  • The following members to be appointed by the Board:
    • Two community-at-large members of the Board.
    • One member of the Board from among those appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council.
    • One member of the Board who is a faculty member on Senate.
    • One alumnus/a who may or may not be a member of the faculty, staff or student body.
    • One member of the Board who is a graduate student.
    • One member of the Board who is an undergraduate student.
  • A senator of professorial rank from each Faculty, elected by a vote within the Faculty.
  • Two regular faculty members, elected from and by the faculty-at-large of the University.
  • One staff member, elected by and from the regular ongoing staff of the University.
  • One faculty member from and appointed by the Federated & Affiliated Colleges.

A reasonable gender balance should be maintained on nominating committees, whenever feasible.

Membership on the nominating committee shall be conditional on each person agreeing to maintain in confidence the information discussed by the committee, except on points where the committee subsequently agrees otherwise, and to exercise authority and responsibility as an individual in order that decisions may be taken at the time and place of committee meetings.

If any member of the nominating committee becomes, or seeks to become, a candidate for the Office of President, the member shall resign from the committee.

In the event of a perceived conflict of interest that could compromise or be seen to compromise the member's judgment of the candidates, he/she shall disclose the nature of that conflict to the committee in sufficient detail to enable the committee to determine whether the member must resign from the committee.

If the association of any member of the nominating committee with the University is terminated or in any way significantly altered, or if for any reason, including resignation, any member is unable to carry out responsibilities on the committee, the nominating committee will request the appointment of a replacement member, unless the committee has reached a stage in its deliberations where it deems such a replacement inadvisable.

B. Terms of Reference

It is understood that the nominating committee shall be responsible for soliciting the views of those affected, including members of the Board of Governors, the Vice-Presidents, the Deans, regular and non-regular faculty members, the President of the Faculty Association, the Federated & Affiliated Colleges, staff members, students and alumni.

1. Reappointment at the End of a First Term

The first charge to the nominating committee will be to solicit, with the prior knowledge of the incumbent and by whatever means it may decide, the opinion of the University community as a whole with respect to the reappointment of the incumbent. If the incumbent is found to be generally acceptable, the committee shall then determine the incumbent's willingness to accept reappointment. If the incumbent indicates willingness to accept, the committee shall recommend reappointment to the Senate and the Board of Governors without considering other candidates.

2. New Appointments

If the incumbent is not to be recommended for reappointment at the end of a first term, or if the incumbent is nearing the end of a second term, or if the incumbent has died, resigned or been removed, then the following procedure shall be followed: the committee will invite or arrange for nominations, by whatever means it considers appropriate, from any person or group; it will arrange to advertise the position in Canada; and it will establish criteria against which nominations and applications may be measured.

The committee will consider all names placed before it and will develop a short list of candidates as its first step in proceeding towards a recommendation. These candidates will be invited to meet with the committee and/or with such other persons and/or groups as it may determine. It will then rank the candidates on the short list and will present to the Senate and, if approved, then to the Board of Governors the name of one candidate for appointment as President. If the candidate is not accepted by either the Senate or the Board, successive names, in the order of ranking from the short list, will be proposed one at a time until a name is accepted. That person will then be offered the position of President by the Chairman of the Board.

All such discussions, in the committee and in the Senate and Board of Governors, will be carried out in confidence.

5. Removal of the Office Holder Before Expiration of Term

A. General Principles

The President of the University may only be removed from office for cause. Cause is to be understood in relation to the duties of the President as indicated by all relevant University policies. Causes for removal include negligence, incompetence, unprofessional conduct, and inability to maintain the confidence of the University community.

Dismissal for cause from an administrative position is not to be confused with the dismissal for cause of a tenured faculty member. The criteria used and the procedures to be followed are different.

B. Reconciliation

In cases where the Chairman of the Board of Governors becomes aware of problems, for example through a petition of regular faculty members or senior academic administrators, the Chairman will, with the support of the Executive Committees of both the Board of Governors and the Senate, seek to mediate the situation as quickly as possible.

C. Formal Inquiry

If reconciliation fails or is inappropriate, the Chairman of the Board of Governors should determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant an inquiry into whether there is cause for removal. The President should be informed in writing of the Chairman's decision and the basis for it, and be given an opportunity to respond. The Chairman will then bring the evidence, together with the President's response, before a joint meeting of the Executive Committees of the Board of Governors and of the Senate. If they believe that formal proceedings are necessary, they shall set up a formal inquiry. At the same time, the Chairman of the Board of Governors may choose to suspend the President, without prejudice, financial or otherwise, for the period of the inquiry, if this is warranted by the general interests of the University and of the individuals involved, and is compatible with the principles of natural justice. The details of the inquiry shall be decided by the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors in consultation with the Executive Committee of the Senate. However, in all its proceedings the hearing committee shall be guided by principles of natural justice. In particular, it shall make sure that the President has full knowledge of every charge, and has every opportunity to respond to these charges. On completion of its work, the hearing committee shall report to the Chairman of the Board with a recommendation, supported by reasons, that the President either (1) continue in office (or be reinstated if temporary suspension has occurred), or (2) be removed for cause. The Chairman shall then report to the Board of Governors, which will take appropriate action.