David H. Turpin, president of the University of Victoria, noticed a disturbing trend among his peers in Canada: whether it was voluntary or forced, The number of departing people is constantly increasing. He found that during the five years from 2006 to 2011, 12 Canadian university presidents had left their jobs within just three years or less than three years. From the five years from 2001 to 2006, only four people were in this situation. Although these examples may seem like a few, they reflect the situation of the university president of one-eighth of the country. In addition, he also found that: In the past half century, the university president’s tenure has been reduced from 13 years in the 1950s to less than 6 years now. Like Canada, the United States has few reliable data on the term of university presidents. It is generally believed that the average length of university presidents is 8-10 years.
At present, the University of Universities and Colleges in Canada is helping Tobin’s principal to expand the scope of his research. Paul Davidson, chairman of the committee, said: “We have recognized the need to work hard to understand this phenomenon.” He noted that since 2009, 47 of the 95 university presidents in Canada have been newly appointed.
President Tobin added that this is only a preliminary finding, and more research is needed to understand this trend and recommend solutions. He believes that the pressure on today’s university leaders is increasing, which may be one of the main reasons for their premature departure.
Tobin himself will leave the post of president of Victoria University in June 2013. He has been working in his position for 12 years. As a trained plant biochemist and psychologist, he plans to use his scientific methods to continue his study of the tenure of Canadian university presidents. No matter what the focus of his attention is, President Tobin still feels passionately that leading a university is “the most beautiful work in the world”.