Lisa Kalynchuk is the new chair of University Council.

New University Council chair brings collegial perspective

Lisa Kalynchuk didn’t have any intention to become University Council chair.

By Lesley Porter

A neuropsychology professor in the College of Medicine, Kalynchuk had served as the chair of the planning and priorities committee of University Council for two years. Though the role gave her immense context on the university’s inner workings, she was getting ready to hang up her hat.

It was the urging of fellow council members and committee chairs, however, that persuaded her to put her name forward after former chair Jay Kalra stepped down in June to serve on the Board of Governors.

“I love the idea of collegial self-governance, and I love the idea of academics debating ideas,” she said. “Council is the body that moves the university’s academic mission forward. I think it is crucial to the success of the university and it’s a massive privilege to be in this role.”

The University Council chair, she continued, “needs to have a broad perspective and be able to manage all the various things that are coming from the campus community that might need to come to a council meeting.”

Serving as a committee chair, then, was no doubt a great precursor to her new role, especially when it comes to big-picture ideas and projects. “What I loved about planning and priorities is the strategic planning part of it,” she said. “You get to see the university finances and have conversations about the operations forecast and other documents we have that are quite important from a financial point of view.”

As chair, she also ensures that agendas address important items and that the meetings them- selves are done openly and fairly. “I want everyone to know that council is a fair place where every- one’s voice is valued and important, and everyone should get their chance to speak their mind,” Kalynchuk said. She brings this approach to her leadership style, which she defined as collaborative and consultative. As a solutions-oriented researcher, however, she also recognizes “that the time comes when you have to reach a decision. You want to be fair and transparent and have a fulsome discussion—particularly with items that are a bit contentious—but you need to direct people and bring people around to a decision.”

In addition to her role in the College of Medicine, Kalynchuk is the interim associate dean of inter- disciplinary health research in the Office of the Vice-Provost Health (formerly the Council of Health Science Deans). With three jobs on the go, time can be tight. Aside from colour-coded calendar blocks, she works closely with the University Secretary’s office, as well as various committee chairs of University Council, to keep things in check.

“We have a group of council committee chairs that are outstanding,” she explained, adding that they provide immense support to her in the form of advice and judgment. “They’re all so capable and can manage their committees really well. They’re a fantastic group to work with and I really appreciate having them on board.”