The University of Guelph says it is suspending its search for a new president and vice-chancellor amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, the board of governors have appointed current provost and vice-president Charlotte Yates as president on an interim basis for two years.
Board chair Shauneen Bruder said universities and organizations worldwide are focused on addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and this is where their efforts and resources should be concentrated.
“COVID-19 is creating much uncertainty, both now and for the future,” Bruder said in a statement. “We expect that even once the crisis subsides, the implications will be long-lasting. At the same time, there are many other strategic imperatives the university must address to continue to move forward.”
Yates replaces outgoing president and vice-chancellor Franco Vaccarino, who announced last year that he was stepping down. His term will end on Aug. 1 and Yates will officially take over the following day.
A search committee has been working since last fall and the university said it was at a critical stage of the process when it made the decision to pause the search.
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Bruder said Yates was chosen in part because of her effectiveness in a range of complex situations and circumstances.
“Her significant experience and extensive knowledge of the complexities and challenges facing the university will enable her to act immediately on priorities during this critical period,” Bruder said.
Yates has served as provost since 2015 and the university said since then she has built a strong leadership team that includes five new deans and other key academic leaders.
She previously served as dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University.
“I am deeply honoured by the trust the board has placed in me to lead the University of Guelph during this challenging time,” Yates said.
“I welcome this opportunity. The university has extraordinary, dedicated faculty, staff and students and exceptionally strong academic and administrative leaders. Working together, we will rise to meet the challenges before us while also enhancing our reputation for quality and excellence.”
An announcement regarding an interim provost and vice-president to replace Yates will be forthcoming, the university said.
In response to the pandemic, the University of Guelph has cancelled all in-person classes for the remainder of the winter semester and more than 4,000 students living on residence have moved out.
Classes resumed on Monday in what the university called an “alternative delivery format.”
More information on its response to the pandemic can be found on the university’s website.