“Ah, but if less is more then just think how much more more would be.”
— Dr. Frasier Crane
The man who will soon take over from Roger Barnsley at the head of Thompson Rivers University has been an unknown quantity to the Kamloops public since his appointment back in June.
First thing this morning, reporters will line up in room 209 of the Campus Activity Centre for interviews with the mystery man in a tightly scheduled series of one-on-ones (stick to the timeline, photos must be taken within the allotted interview time).
We know about his academic and administrative credentials — BSc. from Carleton, doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dean of Science at McGill, vice president at Dalhousie.
But who is he, really? What kind of a leader will he be in a community that is joined at the hip to its university? On policy and leadership counts, we must wait and see.
Of more immediate interest are the attributes of accessibility and personal style.
On the first, Shaver would seem to prefer a controlled environment. With Barnsley, if you want to talk to him you phone him and he answers. With Shaver, it goes something like this: phone him and leave a voicemail; voicemail gets referred to VP advancement Christopher Seguin, who calls you back in a day or two to assess the request and tentatively pencils you in with Shaver for sometime next week; a few days later, media coordinator Diana Skoglund calls to put you in the schedule.
Total elapsed time: nine days.
Maybe Shaver will relax eventually, or maybe that’s the way they do things back east.
As for personal style, we do have some reconnaissance on that. An article on the Dalhousie News website a few years ago made note of Shaver’s pony tail.
“A self-confessed ‘child of the hippie era,’ Dr. Shaver still maintains his ponytail haircut even as his work finds him wearing suit jackets and ties along with it.”
I’m informed he got rid of the ponytail before arriving in Kamloops and has opted for more of a Frasier Crane look. My guess is that either he got some sage advice from Roger Barnsley, or he belatedly discovered that grown men should not wear ponytails.
Early appraisals judge Shaver as “reserved,” a marked contrast to Kathleen Scherf of “TRU rocks!” renown, whose tenure as president was abruptly cut short. In the teleconference piped into the Grand Hall during the announcement last June, he described himself as liking a good laugh.
“I like to have fun,” he said. “I like to enjoy people’s company. I like to work hard with people but it’s important that we have fun together. It’s important that we do things as a community and as a team.”
So, reserved in a fun way. And, the key “community” word.
His first goal, he said then, will be to listen. “I really believe in the democratic process of problem solution and administration.”
Another desirable attribute in TRU’s politically charged environment of sometimes-conflicting interests.
Can a chemist be the answer to TRU’s long and frustrating search for a successor to Roger Barnsley? Obviously, the board of governors thinks so.
And maybe today we’ll find out Alan Shaver’s golf handicap and if Frasier is his favourite TV show is.
HAIL THE FRIENDLY BUS DRIVER. Sally Cornies had this to say after Tuesday’s column about parking at RIH, in which I also mentioned the friendly but anonymous bus driver: “I had the pleasure of going to our emergency department last Saturday. . . What do you do first? Worry about paying for your parking or try and get yourself thru triage as quickly as possible? …I fully understand having to pay for parking in the parkade, but emergency parking should be free and it should be user-friendly. Let’s try to make the trip to emergency a little less stressful.” And, on the friendly bus driver: “My 89-year-old mother had the pleasure of riding on his bus just after the write-up was in the paper. The driver made a point of introducing himself to his passengers and made sure they all knew who he was. He was giving them candy and joking with them. One of the stops on the route was a high school and mom said that there were a huge lot of kids waiting to get on the bus. The driver stopped the bus, got out, and proceeded to introduce himself to all the students just as he’d done with the other passengers. Everyone got candy and everyone was laughing and joking and the kids showed a genuine appreciation for the driver. Mom said it was one of the best bus rides ever. I sure hope his employer realizes what a gem they have.”