New book by U of S president emeritus explores university leadership and public policy issues

A just-published book by University of Saskatchewan president emeritus Peter MacKinnon argues that Canadian universities must embrace competitiveness and change if they are to succeed in the global race for talent.

By Jennifer Thoma
"There should be no doubt about the extent and rapidity of change in the environment in which our universities find themselves," writes MacKinnon in University Leadership and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century: A President's Perspective.

As part of the growing globalization of higher education, universities are "in a great brain race, whether we like it or not," writes MacKinnon, interim president of Athabasca University and a policy fellow of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy based jointly at the U of S and the University of Regina.

To succeed in this global competition for talent, improving quality must be important to all Canada's universities, he says.

"Governments and their broader communities must share an informed determination to see our universities be the best they can be, and they must hold themselves, as well as their universities, to account for the results," he states.

Published by University of Toronto Press, the book looks at key policy issues affecting Canada's university sector. These include academic freedom, strategic planning, tuition policy, labour relations, and governance, as well as partnerships and commercialization.

Though not a memoir, the book draws on MacKinnon's 13 years as president of the U of S, as well as the teachings he gleaned from "some of the finest university presidents in Canadian history." He served as chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada from 2003 to 2005. University Affairs magazine plans to excerpt the book in the national publication's March issue.

"Peter MacKinnon's book is a major contribution to a much-needed discussion on the current status and future role of public universities and of the public policy required to position them for success," said Stephen Toope, president vice-chancellor, University of British Columbia from 2006 to 2014.

The Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy will hold a public book launch on January 20.

"It was a pleasure to work with Peter in senior administration and to read his recollections as well as his analysis," said Michael Atkinson, the policy school's executive director. "No single person has contributed more to the University of Saskatchewan than Peter, and the school is honoured to host his book launch."

MacKinnon, who has been a member of the Prime Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public Service and has served on the federal Science, Technology and Innovation Council, was named the first recipient of the Prime Ministers of Canada Fellowship, an initiative of the Public Policy Forum to enhance governance in Canada.

Co-editor of three books, MacKinnon is the recipient of honorary degrees from Dalhousie University, Queen's University, Memorial University, University of Regina, University of Victoria, and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. He is also an Officer of the Order of Canada.


For more information or to set up an interview with Peter MacKinnon, contact:

Kathryn Warden

U of S Director of Research Profile and Impact