Bishop ‘relinquishes rectorship’ early

Rector Grant Bishop was elected in Nov. 2004.
Rector Grant Bishop was elected in Nov. 2004.

Students will have an additional, unexpected vote to cast during the upcoming AMS executive elections: a successor for Rector Grant Bishop, who has chosen to leave his post early. Bishop, who was elected by a majority vote in November 2004, sent an e-mail to Principal Karen Hitchcock and Chancellor Charles Baillie Jan. 2 informing them of his decision to “relinquish the rectorship” once a successor is elected in February.

The full term of the rector is three years. Bishop said he is opting to leave his position a year and a half early due to personal circumstances.

“It is not a resignation per se,” Bishop said. “My personal intention is to leave Queen’s at the end of this year and consequently I wanted to ensure a successor was chosen before I left.”

Bishop added that while the full length of a rector’s term is three years, no student rector has completed the full three-year term, with the exception of the first student rector in 1967. Most other rectors have served two-year terms, so he will be leaving only half a term earlier than is traditional.

“This seemed to me to be an appropriate time to accomplish the transition [to a successor]. The decision is strictly personal. It has come to the time for me to leave Queen’s and that’s going to be at the end of this year,” Bishop said. “I think during my tenure at the office, I have certainly served the duties of the office in a way that merits me being able to step out at this point.”

Bishop said he doesn’t think his decision to leave early will have a negative effect on students.

“I actually think with a successor appointed by election in February, it allows for the transition of that person into the office concurrent with the time that other student governments are transitioning.

“I think this is as good as a time as any.” As rector, Bishop has been a representative for undergraduate and graduate students at the University regarding matters of education. As well as serving on several related committees, the rector is one of three student representatives on the Board of Trustees.

“Grant has really raised the bar of the rector to a very high level,” said Ethan Rabidoux, AMS president. “He had guts and wasn’t afraid of taking student concerns to administration regardless of the cost.”

“He is somebody who puts 110 per cent in everything he does and that’s what being rector is about,” he said. “You don’t oversee a jurisdiction or government. Your whole job is to play a role influencing, mediating, listening and being a constant advocate [for students].”

Hugh Christie, currently vice chair of the Board of Trustees and a Queen’s rector in 1978, said that it was his decision to reduce the rectorship from three years to two.

“I decided it was better for the office if the election was held every other year, because three years is an eternity in a university career,” he said.

Christie added that formally, the rector is the senior student representative on the Board of Trustees, but informally, the rector stands as the student representative whose opinion is frequently asked for by administration.

“[Bishop] has committed a great deal of energy and time, and we should all be grateful for that,” Christie said. “It’s a job that’s not easy and that takes a lot of time.

“We’ll be sad to see him go. It’s too bad he feels that he needs to leave early, and I respect his decision.”

John Rae, chair of the Board of Trustees, said he is also grateful for Bishop’s work as rector.

“First of all, on personal terms, Grant was very much appreciated by his colleagues on the board,” Rae said. “I’ve had several very good discussions prior to his decision, and I think he’s a very fine person and I wish him well with the decision he’s made.”

Christie said seeking the position of rector is a worthwhile endeavour.

“I learned as much as from being rector and being part of the AMS as from my formal education at Queen’s,” he said.

He added the job requires great dedication.

“The greatest bonus of the position is also the greatest worry for a student,” Christie said. “The problem is that there’s no limit to what you can get involved in. You can sometimes get stretched so thin that you end up compromising your studies or [end up] not contributing as much as you should in one area.”

Bishop agreed.

“One’s passion for the institution drives one to want to contribute, and that can be very consuming,” he said. “There’s a myriad of challenges that one faces.

“There is a great potential to change an institution which you care greatly about.”

Bishop added that the rewards of being rector are found in relationships built with students and being able to contribute to the University.

“The opportunity to serve your community is something that is very deeply inspiring,” he said. “I think the depth to which you feel a servant to the community is something that’s very emotionally fulfilling.”

Rabidoux said that students who want to run for rector should talk to the two previous rectors, Bishop and Ahmed Kayssi.

“Whoever follows has the unenviable task of following in their footsteps but also the luxury of being mentored and tutored by giants ... people who are so talented and truly incredibly individuals,” he said.

Rabidoux added that the integrity of the office has been elevated by previous rectors.

“With other campaigns, it can get very personal and it’s never worth it. The rector campaign has always risen above that and that speaks to the level of which the office is at.”

Adrienne Smith, AMS Commissioner of Internal Affairs, said the election process for rector is similar to the executive elections for referendum.

Students can pick up a nomination package at the AMS front desk between Jan. 9 and 20. Candidates must collect 250 signatures—two per cent of the student body. Elections will be held on Feb. 7 and 8 as part of the AMS Executive and Spring Referendum.

“[A rector] needs a great deal of conscience as a representative, strong empathy for students’ needs and a great love for the Queen’s community,” he said.

Rabidoux said he thought Bishop was a good rector.

“You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone with a deeper and more abiding love for the school than Grant Bishop,” he said. “There was tremendous unity [between the AMS, SGPS and the rector] this year and Grant has played a great role in that.”

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