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A Quebec resident was recommended for the position of president of the University of Geneva in controversy

Although his appointment to the presidency of the University of Geneva does not meet with unanimity within the Swiss political class, Quebec Eric Paus will respect the decision of the Council of State responsible for approving or rejecting the University Assembly’s recommendation.

The Geneva University Assembly announced the selection of Mr. Baus, a professor at Université Laval, Quebec, in a press release on Wednesday. She referred to the “unifying and forward-looking project” presented by Candidate Baus “in continuation of the efforts made by the current Directorate, not only in terms of excellence and the impact of the university, but also in favor of social and environmental aspects and environmental progress, in cooperation with local and international political actors.”

The Foundation also described the lucky winner as “a person with an excellent scientific profile”, “possessing unquestioned high-level managerial and leadership skills in research and education institutions, a great ability to muster a national and international network and a strong commitment to academic excellence.”

Controversial

However, many Swiss media, and certain voices, government among others, have expressed reservations about this international appointment, explicitly stating that the Swiss candidate could have been seen better.

“It will be the first time that a foreigner, moreover from North America, will lead such a prestigious university,” Eric Paus admits in an interview with Canadian Press. I can understand the concerns and concerns that were expressed, but I will respect the decision that will be made. However, I am very honored to be selected by the university. »

Therefore, the Swiss State Council could revoke this choice, and at the same time impose a new application process, La Tribune de Genève noted. The report stated that “such a decision is likely to open an institutional crisis, as it would undermine the university’s independence and legitimacy.”

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long process

The call for applications for the position of Rector of the University of Geneva was launched in June 2022 and the appointment process took place between September and January. Two other candidates participated in the race, the Belgian Jean-Michel Rigaud from the University of Hasselt and Jerome Lacour, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and internal candidate at the University of Geneva.

Already, the possibility of appointing a foreigner was controversial. The Council denounced the public positions that were taken and the interference in a process that was carried out in accordance with the legal provisions, as well as the strong media pressure that was exerted during the procedure. These unacceptable pressures violate the autonomy of the university as provided by law. Despite these pressures, the association continued its assessment work and made its decision in complete independence.

Mr. Baus has been Professor Emeritus in the Department of Timber and Forest Sciences since 1989 at Université Laval, where he works in the Faculty of Forestry, Geography and Geomatics. Twice he tried to reach the presidency of his alma mater, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in forestry engineering and a master’s degree in forest entomology. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from Purdue University in 2015.

However, he held the position of Vice-Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at his faculty from September 1998 to June 2007, in addition to being Executive Vice-President for University and Development of Université Laval between July 2007 and July 2017. Vice-Chancellor for Administration and Finance from January 2009 to January 2010.

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Through an advertisement published in the daily newspaper duty, sent to him by a colleague, that he had become aware of the prestigious job offer. “The profile researched was very interesting and I found we shared the same philosophy,” explains the main stakeholder, who has drafted a proposal focused on social and ecological transformation, collaborative management and open science.

The university’s current president, Yves Fluckiger, will step down in mid-July. The next term will run from 2023 to 2027.

This post was produced with financial assistance from the Meta Exchange and The Canadian Press News.

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