Leo F. Kristjanson (1980-1989) - retirement



SASKATOON, JULY 6 [1988] - Dr. Leo Kristjanson is stepping down as president of the University of Saskatchewan on June 30, 1989. That is one year before the end of his second five-year term.

Dr. Kristjanson requested the University's Board of Governors to accept a one-year reduction in his presidential duties for health reasons. A few years ago, he was diagnosed as having Parkinson's disease. He said he wishes to leave the presidency a year early because of the progress of the disease. The Board today (July 6) regretfully agreed.

Dr. Kristjanson said he is pleased that many of the University's goals have been achieved during his presidency.

"That's another reason why I've asked the Board to shorten my term."

He mentioned major improvements in health science facilities, including a new building for the Saskatoon Cancer Clinic, additional laboratories for the College of Medicine, the expansion of related facilities in the University Hospital, and the establishment of the Kinsmen Children's Centre. He also noted that the Geology Building was erected, the Innovation Place research park was completed, and construction of the new Agriculture Building will soon begin.

"The Centre for the Study of Co-operatives was founded during this period and a labor studies program was established in the College of Commerce. Both are unique in Canada. At the same time, we've expanded our cultural facilities, including a new natural sciences museum and a developing Kenderdine gallery. The Diefenbaker Centre has become a major community resource, and our Art, Music and Drama Departments have increased their offerings both on and off campus," he said.

Dr. Kristjanson said he is also pleased that during his presidency the University has been made more accessible to people of native ancestry and that satellite delivery of courses has increased accessibility generally.

He stated that student services have been substantially improved, including the appointment of an assistant vice-president to deal specifically with student matters.

"Our students have been highly successful in academic and related competitions, nationally and internationally. There has also been a high level of student participation in various athletic programs under the supervision of our excellent coaches."

Dr. Kristjanson commented that the advances of the last several years have been made despite difficult circumstances.

"My successor will need to work very hard to convince supporters that higher levels of funding are required if we are to play an appropriate role in basic and applied research in Saskatchewan and beyond. Research must be recognized as an investment on which excellent rates of return have been amply demonstrated over the long term."

Don Whiteman, chairman of the Board of Governors, said Dr. Kristjanson enjoys the Board's respect, co-operation and confidence, and his request to step down early was accepted with deep regret.

"When he leaves the presidency, the University the city and the province will be deprived of a great visionary and leader. His dedication, loyalty, intellect and tough mindedness have been directed to the betterment of the University, the faculty, the student body and the entire province. He has touched people in all walks of life."

Mr. Whiteman said few people realize the demands made on chief executives and the pressures under which they work.

"These have taken their toll. Nevertheless, Dr. Kristjanson has been able to temper his heavy responsibilities with sensitivity and kindly wisdom. His love for his family, his sense of humor and his dedication to the University have been the touchstones of his presidency."

Mr. Whiteman said the Board is taking immediate steps to set in motion the process required to select a new president. This process normally takes about a year. He said the Board will discuss the terms of reference of the search committee and the kind of person needed to fill the position. He added that the search commitee will be established as soon as possible.

He went on to urge the University community to pull together in selecting a president.

"We're asking for the understanding, co-operation and loyalty of the faculty and those closely allied with the University. We must proceed with a singleness of purpose and demonstrate the kind of unity that will enable us to attract a chief executive worthy of this institution."

Dr. Kristjanson will take an administrative sabbatical leave beginning July 1, 1989, during which he plans to read and study. If his health permits, he will return to the University to do research in his areas of interest.

[Copy available in Faculty Biography Files, L.F. Kristjanson]