St. Jerome's new VP no stranger to campus

  • December 22, 2010
St. Jerome's UniveritySt. Jerome’s University’s new vice-president and academic dean is lined up to take over July 1, but he isn’t really new to the Catholic liberal arts college at the University of Waterloo.

James S. Frank attended St. Jerome’s High School as a teenager, was a member of the St. Jerome’s University Catholic Community for 36 years, was married to his wife Jackie by one of his priest-professors while studying at St. Jerome’s and helped initiate the children’s Sunday school program when his own kids were attending church at the university in the 1980s.

“He’s a known quantity at St. Jerome’s, which is very reassuring,” said David Seljak, president of the St. Jerome’s faculty association.

St. Jerome’s president Fr. David Perrin praised Frank’s “capacity to step into the job fairly easily.”

Having been head of the University of Waterloo department of kinesiology in the 1990s, Frank’s experience as an administrator at the University of Waterloo will mean he already has the contacts to open doors all over the university, said Perrin.

For a guy who hitch-hiked daily from Preston, near Cambridge, Ont., so he could attend St. Jerome’s High School under the Resurrectionist priests, and credits Fr. Robert Liddy with encouraging him to give university a try, going back home to St. Jerome’s represents “the pinnacle of my career,” said Frank.

Promoting a Catholic identity for St. Jerome’s will be central to Frank’s role as an administrator.

“To be a Catholic university we have to have a strong core of committed Catholic faculty. I strongly believe that defines our existence beyond just being another affiliated university or another liberal arts university,” he said.

Frank has an international reputation as a scholar in kinesiology. With his PhD from the University of Southern California, Frank became an associate professor at the University of Waterloo in 1991 and went on to be a full professor, department chair and associate dean of graduate studies. He is currently dean of graduate studies at the University of Windsor.

Frank is stepping into his new role as St. Jerome’s tries to right itself after three years of controversy and turmoil that prompted the teaching staff to unionize. The union hopes to have a first contract signed by Feb. 28, said Seljak. Perrin declined to comment on future negotiations.

Though all sides expect contract negotiations to be concluded before Frank takes on his new job, Frank believes he has a role in reconciling administration and faculty.

“It’s important for me to understand what happened there when I get in there,” said Frank. “But I think that the most important thing for me in my role there is to bring people together to move forward.”

The vice president and academic dean of the last six years, Fr. Myroslav Tataryn will return to his first love, teaching theology.

“He’s such a wonderful colleague. It’s been good working with him. I will be sorry to see him go,” said Perrin.

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