Manzanilla wins rectorship by 17 votes

Former rector Grant Bishop presents rector-elect Johsa Manzanilla with the rector gown.
Former rector Grant Bishop presents rector-elect Johsa Manzanilla with the rector gown.
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Tom Woodhall, Sci ’05 and ArtSci ’06, lost after 40 hours of ballot counting.
Tom Woodhall, Sci ’05 and ArtSci ’06, lost after 40 hours of ballot counting.
Photo: 

Participants in the Queen’s High School Invitational Debating Tournament probably didn’t expect to have their tournament interrupted Friday with the news that its organizer had been elected as the University’s next rector.

The announcement came after a prolonged 40-hour ballot counting period, in which the results of the unusually close vote were counted, recounted and recounted again after some ballot boxes were found to have been counted incorrectly.

In the final count, Johsa Manzanilla, ArtSci ’07, won with 40.3 per cent of the vote in the final round. Candidate Tom Woodhall, Sci ’05 and ArtSci ’06, came in an extremely close second, with 39.9 per cent—a difference of 17 votes. Candidate Ken Saddington, Sci ’07, got 15.7 per cent of the votes in the second round and Arun Parkash, ArtSci ’06, got 9.9 per cent of the votes during the first round.

Current Rector Grant Bishop, Chief Returning Officer Sarah Cressatti and an entourage of supporters rushed down the aisle of the lecture room to announce the results to Manzanilla, where she was was helping to run a debating tournament involving 20 high schools across Canada.

A teary-eyed Manzanilla was speechless as Bishop clad her in the rector’s robe and handed her a small silver puma, which he explained is a paperweight bought by former rector Michael Kealey during his tenure from 1998 to 2000.

“It’s more an emblem of office,” Bishop said.

Manzanilla said she ran for rector wanting to play a role as a student advocate.

“I guess all I wanted to do is to voice the concerns of students,” she said. “There shouldn’t be a separation between the students and the rector.”

Manzanilla said she has focused on getting to know students one by one.

“[At the Vic Hall debate I was asked] why I was the only one without a website,” she said. “I made sure people could find me … I think they preferred talking to me in person.”

Manzanilla attributed the close race to the well-run campaigns on the part of the other candidates running.

“It was an amazingly well-run campaign,” she said. “The candidates were all such respected members of the community.

“My name isn’t that well-known and I think that it was what I stood for that counted.”

Bishop said he thinks the electorate has chosen well, and that the new rectorship marks a “new era” for the University.

“The electorate chooses as they are inspired,” he said. “The rector can bring a fresh and enthusiastic vision to the University’s coming challenges.”

Manzanilla said she doesn’t fit most people’s idea of a rector.

“A lot of people were skeptical at me running,” she said. “I’m not a master’s student, I’m much younger, I’m female … I’m vertically challenged,” she joked, regarding her height.

Bishop said he doesn’t think there is a particular rector profile.

“I would never say there’s any profile,” he said. “I’m confident in the energy, enthusiasm, the breadth of sober thought and thorough analysis [Manzanilla will] be able to contribute.”

Manzanilla’s campaign manager Rob Ripley, Comm ’05, said he is happy with the way the campaign turned out.

“I think it was run quite well—we had the volunteer base,” he said. “I think we had a great message, too.”

Manzanilla agreed her supporters were a seminal part of her victory.

“There’s no way that I would have won without my friends,” she said. “Thank you to everybody.”

Ripley attributed the tight race to the quality of Woodhall’s campaign.

“[Woodhall] was a great guy and he ran a great campaign,” he said. “That connected with people, too.”

Woodhall agreed that overall, the campaign was a good one.

“A lot of good ideas came up,” he said. “Hopefully the winner can implement everyone’s ideas.”

Woodhall said he doesn’t know what he could have done to improve his campaign, and attributed the close race to the quality of the candidates.

“I think it was just the depth of the field,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a close race.”

Woodhall added that the suspense of the continual recounts was tough.

“When they turn it into a made-for-TV drama, it’ll get good ratings,” he said.

While Manzanilla was eager to get back to leading the tournament, she said she would celebrate later that night.

Among the topics Manzanilla said she wants to address as rector is that of diversity.

“I want to make sure Queen’s is a diverse campus,” she said, “[while] highlighting that it’s already diverse.”

She added she wants to live up to her campaign slogan of “a rector for everyone.”

Bishop said his advice to the rector-elect is to maintain “humility in service.”

“Remember the essence of the office—to be a servant and a leader,” he said. “A great transition is ahead.

“I’m very much looking forward to it.”

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