Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts was named the next president of the Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne (AUFC), at the association’s annual general meeting on December 1st, 2009.
Established in 2002, the AUFC is a successor to Le regroupement des universités francophones hors Québec (RUFHQ) and defines its mission as twofold: first, promoting university education in minority Francophone settings across Canada; and second, representing the specific needs and challenges of its member institutions to the Canadian government, and national and international organizations. The Association’s activities also include support for students studying in their second language through scholarships and research funds, as well as establishing partnerships with a number of government agencies, other educational institutions and research organizations.
McRoberts’ appointment is strategic – as affirmed by outgoing president Raymonde Gagné, rector of Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface, in Winnipeg - following closely in the footsteps of the recently published report of the Commissioner of Official Languages on the need to provide students with more opportunities to pursue university studies in their second language.
Principal McRoberts is the first Anglophone to assume this position at the AUFC, whose members consist of thirteen institutions outside Quebec providing university education to Anglophones in Francophone or bilingual settings. “I feel that I can make a particular contribution to the Association given the heightened public concern with opportunities for Anglophones to pursue university studies in French. The member universities of the Association can respond to this need in ways that no other Canadian universities can. It is critically important that these possibilities become better known”, says McRoberts.
In fact, Kenneth McRoberts is particularly well-qualified for his new role, with a lifelong academic dedication to the study of issues of bilingualism, Canadian federalism and constitutional questions. He has numerous articles and book chapters, as well as several books to his credit on these topics. In June 2004, the French government named him Officier de l’Ordre des Palmes académiques in recognition of his significant contribution to the promotion of French education outside France. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from Laval University in September 2004.
Right: Glendon principal Kenneth McRoberts
The publication of the Commissioner of Official Languages’ report defines this as an important moment in Canada’s history for addressing the topic of in-depth second-language learning at the university level. It recognizes significant current needs for training truly bilingual graduates. These include replacing the large number of retirees from the public service, now and in the coming years, as well as the ever-increasing demand for graduates able to function in several languages in the global workplace.
The Official Languages Commissioner’s report, presented to the federal government, considers current opportunities for studying in immersion-style second-language programs at Canadian universities inadequate. The Commissioner points to the need for various government agencies, under the leadership of the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, to address this issue in a serious and comprehensive manner, so that “[…] Canadian youth can take full advantage of our country’s linguistic duality.”
In his new role as the president of AUFC, McRoberts’ goal is to enhance the position of the organization and of its individual members, so that they can respond to the challenges outlined in the Commissioner’s report. “Currently, the Association has an especially important role to play”, says McRoberts, “in empowering its members to develop programs which provide this unique opportunity of enhancing genuine bilingualism among Anglophone university students. This role complements the historical concern with meeting the needs of minority Francophone communities.”
More about Kenneth McRoberts
Kenneth McRoberts has been principal of Glendon University College since 1999 and is currently in his third consecutive term in this position. A distinguished professor of political science, he received his doctorate from the University of Chicago and is a recognized expert in Canadian constitutional policy. He was the first director of Glendon’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) as well as director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies. He was editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Canadian Studies for six years and was president of the Canadian Political Science Association.