ProFile: Richard Leblanc, professor and graduate program director
Consistent with its name, the new series ProFile will feature faculty and staff at York University. Included in this short Q-and-A style profile are details about working life at York, followed by a few fun and quirky questions.
ProFile: Richard Leblanc
Position at York U and department/faculty: Professor of governance, law and ethics, and graduate program director, Master of Financial Accountability (MFAc) Program, School of Administrative Studies, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University.
How long have you been with York University, and what is your role? I have been with York university since 2004. Currently, I oversee a large graduate program and I am developing an executive program in health care governance in partnership with the Ontario Hospital Association.
Describe a typical work day at York for you? At least half of my work days are working on my new book, which is coming out in April 2020: The Handbook of Board Governance. My previous book sold over 7,000 copies. The new book has 61 chapters and 80 contributing authors, from all over the world.
The rest of my day is the MFAc program, teaching, and new program development. My graduate program assistant has a very high email tolerance. In a busy day, I can send 75 emails addressing global student recruitment and overseeing about 40 instructors.
I frequently am asked to comment in the media on breaking news stories that have a governance angle, and I enjoy this too. It gets the York University brand out there!
I am also asked to give speeches and present my work whenever I can.
What do you enjoy most about working at York University? The faculty, the staff and, of course, the students. We have an absolutely great president, Rhonda Lenton, and a fantastic dean, JJ McMurtry.
Leadership is everything for any organization and sets the tone. President Lenton originally hired me after I received my PhD focused on governance.
There is very high collegiality at York. It is a dynamic, inclusive, exciting place to be. We have some of the most talented faculty, staff and students in all of Canada, if not globally.
The students are best in class. Global, entrepreneurial, eager to learn and an absolute joy to teach.
Where is your favourite place on campus and why? I will tell you where it used to be – that is the large classroom of what is now the nursing building. I fondly refer to it as “the pit.” This is where I first taught my very first class – some 250 students! – and developed my love for teaching. I get excited every time I pass by that building. (Flashbacks, I guess!)
Describe York University using one word: Innovative. Our mission is “the way must be tried.” This mission really transcends everything at York. It is embedded in our culture. If there is a way to do something, and you are creative and passionate, at the end of the day, if your idea is good, there will be a way to make it happen. The way must be tried, or in Latin, “Tentanda via.”
And now for a little fun...
What is the most used app on your phone? LinkedIn. During my last sabbatical, I started to post everything I read in a LinkedIn group I started. And now there are almost 30,000 followers.
What's the most interesting thing you've read or seen this week? I am worried about COVID-19. The good news is that we have very effective leaders, not just political, but at York University. York University’s response and communication have been best-in-class. We also have some of the best health care leaders and health care system anywhere in the world. Canada also has a community ethic and collective spirit of the greater good. We have a strong social and safety system also. We have “significant fire power,” as the prime minister stated.
Where is the most interesting place you’ve lived? Sudbury, Ontario, where I was born. Everyone knows everybody in Sudbury and they all look out for each other. I grew up playing hockey in open air rinks. Those were the days! My cousins also own Toppers Pizza.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher. Always. My father was a teacher, and the kitchen table discussions were all about teaching. So I sort of grew up with it. I could not think of anything else I would rather do. I absolutely love my job!
What’s the farthest place (from York) you’ve travelled to? Moscow, Russia, when I was asked to teach governance to corporate directors in the former Soviet Union. I still remember the first question: “Why would anyone want to put anyone who is independent on the board of directors?” I have a chapter on Russian corporate governance in my new book.