University of Saskatchewan announces Ilene Busch-Vishniac as ninth president

Ilene Busch-Vishniac, currently provost and vice-president academic at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. and a renowned researcher in the areas of acoustic noise control and engineering education, has been named the ninth president of the University of Saskatchewan.

Busch-Vishniac was introduced at an event Dec. 19 in Convocation Hall by Nancy Hopkins, chair of the U of S Board of Governors and the presidential search committee. She takes up her new position July 1, 2012, replacing Peter MacKinnon who will step down after 13 years as president.

"It is clear that the University of Saskatchewan has both the capacity and the drive to contribute on the national stage," said Busch-Vishniac describing what attracted her to the position. "I look forward to continuing the momentum created by the extraordinary work of President MacKinnon as we foster innovations in teaching and learning, grow research programs that will drive the economy of the province in the future, distinguish ourselves through innovative approaches to the issues of the Aboriginal communities, and define the role we wish to play locally, provincially, nationally and internationally."

Describing two qualities of the U of S that she found compelling, Busch-Vishniac mentioned the university's connections to the public sector, both the city of Saskatoon and the province of Saskatchewan, as well as its "strong and growing interaction with Aboriginal communities. My pledge," she said, "is to be a trustworthy partner for First Nations and Métis communities" with the aim of achieving the mutual goals of cultural preservation, respect and accomplishment.

Prior to joining McMaster University, Busch-Vishniac served as dean of engineering at Johns Hopkins University and associate chair of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas (Austin). A graduate of the University of Rochester, Busch-Vishniac earned her Master of Science and PhD in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

At McMaster University, Busch-Vishniac has increased student enrolment at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, strengthened ties with Aboriginal communities, particularly with the Six Nations in Ontario, expanded the university's full-time faculty complement, and led both the development of an activity-based budget system and a systems renewal. She has also served as chair of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents, and led the creation of a new quality assurance process for Ontario universities.

As dean of engineering at Johns Hopkins University, she raised millions of dollars for the school and oversaw the construction of four new buildings on that campus. In 2008, Johns Hopkins University created the Ilene Busch-Vishniac Lecture to honour her work on issues of diversity in engineering.

Commenting on her career progression, she said "I marvel that a one-time music student from Philadelphia has somehow managed to navigate a winding path, ending up here as the president of the University of Saskatchewan." She added she is looking forward to meeting all members of the university community and building relationships with U of S partners.

In introducing the president designate, Hopkins said Busch-Vishniac's outstanding academic background combined with her extensive leadership experience and track record in establishing strong, mutually beneficial partnerships made her an ideal candidate for the presidency. "The University of Saskatchewan has made tremendous progress under President Peter MacKinnon's leadership," she said. "We are confident that Ilene Busch-Vishniac will continue to build on this momentum, strengthening the University of Saskatchewan even further as we pursue our ambition to become one of the most distinguished universities in Canada and the world."

Hopkins said the Board of Governors was assisted in selecting the next president by a search committee with broad representation from across campus, as well as by the public input the search committee received prior to undertaking the search. The search committee included board members Susan Milburn and David Sutherland as well as Chancellor Vera Pezer, University of Saskatchewan Students' Union President Scott Hitchings, Graduate Students Association President Xue Yao, Deans David Hill and Peter Stoicheff, and faculty members Michel Desautels, Ingrid Pickering, Keith Walker and Winona Wheeler.

Busch-Vishniac is married to Ethan Vishniac, currently a professor of physics and astronomy at McMaster and editor of The Astrophysical Journal.
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