The federal government's Canada Research Chairs Program has allocated 38 chairs to U of G. Guelph will receive more than $35 million to fund the chairs, 10 of which will be established in 2000/2001.
"We are grateful to the federal government for establishing this program and pleased with our success in the recent announcement," says Prof. Larry Milligan, vice-president (research). "We fully expect the chairs program to support our strategic mission of research-intensiveness. It will help us retain faculty as well as recruit new faculty, critical over the next five years as we experience a bulge in faculty retirements. It will also help us as we enter our capital campaign, providing new opportunities to showcase our faculty talent and core research strengths and capabilities and, therefore, to solicit additional support."
The Canada Research Chairs Program - in the past also called the 21st Century or Millennium Chairs - is designed to enable Canadian universities to become world-class centres of research excellence, by providing new resources to retain and recruit world-class faculty. Under the program, announced in last year's federal budget, $900 million will be committed to support the establishment of 2,000 new research chairs in Canadian universities by 2005.
At U of G, a Canada Chairs Committee created by VPAC shortly after the federal budget announcement, has been awaiting program details and guidelines for some months. This committee will establish the policy for allocating the chairs at Guelph and will share it with the community. Approaches will be examined that provide as much equitable distribution of the chairs as possible while serving the program's goals. Chaired by Prof. Alastair Summerlee, associate vice-president (academic), the committee consists of Prof. Ross Hallett, assistant vice-president (research infrastructure programs); Prof. François Paré, Languages and Literatures; Prof. Anthony Clarke, chair of the Department of Microbiology; Rudy Putns, executive director for campaign programs; and Prof. Michael Nightingale, dean of the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.
The most recent news about the Canada Research Chairs Program has clarified that it will support two types of chairs. Tier 1 positions will support seven-year chairs used to retain or attract experienced individuals acknowledged by their peers as international leaders in their research fields. For each Tier 1 chair, universities will receive $200,000 a year in financial support for the seven-year term. These chairs are renewable indefinitely for the individuals selected.
Five-year Tier 2 positions will retain or attract future research "stars," those acknowledged as having the potential to lead their research fields. For each Tier 2 chair, universities will receive $100,000 a year for five years. These chairs are renewable only once.
In addition, for each chair allocated, universities can request a further $125,000 from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) for infrastructure support.
Guelph will receive 18 Tier 1 and 20 Tier 2 chairs. The chairs have been allocated by the federal granting councils, and each of the three councils - Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) - must review and approve the chair nominees. Guelph received three chairs under MRC, 30 under NSERC and five under SSHRC.
In terms of share of chairs allocated, U of G placed second among comprehensive universities in Ontario (Waterloo received 47) and second among non-medical universities.
Hallett notes that Guelph would probably have received more chairs had the allocation formula included all research funding at the institution as opposed to just federal granting council support.
"The approach taken was based on the previous awards success of each university with the three federal granting councils, with greater emphasis being given to the MRC and NSERC and less weight attached to SSHRC. Not surprisingly, then, the allocation of chairs tends to be weighted towards those universities with medical schools."
Six per cent of chairs were allocated automatically to smaller institutions with less than one per cent of funding from the three granting councils.
At the same time that it announced the allocation of chairs, the federal government also announced that Marc Renaud, president of SSHRC, has been appointed the first chair of the Canada Research Chairs Program's steering committee. The program will be administered by MRC, SSHRC, NSERC and CFI through a joint secretariat based at SSHRC.