A proposal to create pro-chancellor positions at Western was recently rejected by Senate.
"We basically didn't see the need for it at this point," said Donna Peterson, director of Convocation. "We have pro-chancellors at every convocation and they usually are the associate deans or the deans from the particular faculties."
Jane Toswell, an arts and humanities professor and senator, brought forth a motion to create a pro-chancellor position in order for convocation to have more diversity.
“I think it was rejected because the convocation committee and the Convocation board interpreted the proposal very narrowly in terms of how Convocation now works,” Toswell said.
Typically, Western’s chancellor is a white male in his 50s to 70s. Toswell’s proposal of having a pro-chancellor position means anytime the chancellor is unable to make it to a convocation ceremony, the pro-chancellor would take his place.
Peterson believes there already is diversity and wide representation, but acknowledges that a greater attempt can be made to have a more diverse chancellor.
The current chancellor is Jack Cowin, a businessman who resides in Australia. Toswell said he is very open-minded about her proposition.
“I think the figure who is the symbol and centre of Convocation is an important figure, and to always have somebody who’s a businessman in his early 70s or his late 70s and white is — I think — narrow,” Toswell said. “Other universities seem to manage to have different chancellors, but Western always has a businessperson.”
Currently, if the chancellor is unable to attend the ceremony the president or provost typically stands in, but Toswell advocates choosing a member of faculty, as the UWO Act permits any member of faculty to act as a pro-chancellor.
"We try our best to select men, women, people from a broad range of careers [and] backgrounds," Peterson said.
Ultimately the proposal was rejected by Senate, but Toswell hopes she opened up interest in having a greater degree of diversity.