Glendon Principal Kenneth McRoberts was named the new president of the Association des universités de la francophonie canadienne (AUFC) at the association’s annual general meeting on Dec. 1.
Established in 2002, the AUFC is a successor to Le regroupement des universités de la francophones hors Québec. The association 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 include support for students studying in their second language through scholarships and research funds, as well as establishing partnerships with government agencies, other educational institutions and research organizations.
Right: Kenneth McRoberts
Outgoing president Raymonde Gagné, rector of Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface in Winnipeg, affirmed that McRoberts’ appointment represents a strategic move for the AUFC. It follows closely on 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.
McRoberts is the first anglophone to assume this position at the AUFC, an organization with 13 member institutions outside Quebec that provide 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,” said McRoberts. “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.”
McRoberts brings his significant experience as an academic and political scientist to his new role with the AUFC. His areas of expertise include the study of issues of bilingualism, Canadian federalism and constitutional questions. McRoberts has authored numerous articles and book chapters, and has 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 received an honorary doctorate from Laval University in September 2004.
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.
Presented to the federal government, the report 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 & 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 in empowering its members to develop programs, which provide this unique opportunity of enhancing genuine bilingualism among anglophone university students,” said McRoberts. “This role complements the historical concern with meeting the needs of minority francophone communities.”
McRoberts has been principal of Glendon College since 1999 and is currently in his third consecutive term. A 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 the Glendon School of Public & 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 is the past president of the Canadian Political Science Association.