Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 30, No. 3

October 13, 2005


David Graham energized by post

By Jean Proulx

Dean David Graham, Faculty of Arts and Science

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Right away, David Graham noticed it — “the sense of energy, passion and drive that bubbles up constantly around you at Concordia. It is a visceral feeling, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

“I came away from the interview process with a sense of a forward-looking institution with a bright future. I believe Concordia has the potential to become one of Canada’s leading universities.”

Dean Graham, newly appointed to the Faculty of Arts and Science, comes to us from Memorial University in Newfoundland, where he was Dean of Arts. There he participated in a wide range of administrative activities, developing a rich network of contacts with other Canadian universities and research and academic associations.

He is a specialist in early modern French literature, and started to learn his now-elegant French as a youngster in the Saskatchewan public school system.

“The fact that we are a combined Faculty of Arts and Science was enormously appealing to me,” he said.

“I started out my undergraduate career as a chemistry student, and I have retained a strong interest in the sciences. We often forget that a liberal arts curriculum is grounded in the natural sciences.”

He said he found the sheer size of the faculty exciting, and he admires what former dean Martin Singer was able to accomplish in terms of renewing the faculty.

“The Faculty of Arts and Science at Concordia is twice as big alone as the entirety of Memorial! Large size brings budgetary clout and the potential to accomplish a great deal.”

Asked if Concordia’s uneven image gave him pause, Graham said people at Memorial tend to feel underappreciated, too. “There’s no question that Concordia’s reputation is not yet commensurate with its accomplishments.”

Asked to describe his management style, Graham said, “I’m a fiscal conservative, but when it comes to managing people I try to be open, responsible, collegial, transparent and responsive.”

The new dean is consulting with department chairs and other colleagues to plan the future of the faculty, but he is determined to sustain the momentum built up in recent years.

“We have to find a way to balance accessibility and quality for our students. People often think of Concordia as the first-choice-second-chance university.

“That is not a bad identity to have and I think we must remain as accessible as possible, but we must also insist on creating the most intellectually rewarding environment for our students and faculty.”

Here’s a sample of what to expect from Dean Graham. The vice-president academic of Memorial, Edward Campbell, said Graham’s last budget presentation there as dean used the theme of Hercules cleaning the Augean stables (a famous example or a massive task from classical literature), complete with pictures.

“The presentation was typical of David, addressing serious issues in a serious way, but with good humour and a light touch. It was very effective and memorable.”

A version of this profile appears in the forthcoming issue of Panorama, a Faculty publication.