Farewell to Phyllis

DANIEL McCABE | You can now count Phyllis Heaphy among the Montrealers who've ventured down the 401 to make new lives for themselves in Toronto.

McGill's vice-principal (administration and finance) since 1995, Heaphy will become the new vice president (finance) and chief financial officer for the Hospital for Sick Children, a University of Toronto-affiliated teaching hospital and Canada's largest pediatric health centre. She starts her new job on October 4.

Asked in an e-mail interview why she decided to take the position, Heaphy responded, "I will sidestep this question by telling you that I agonized a long time over making such a move. I am leaving a wonderful institution with incomparable people. Nothing about what McGill is made me take this step. I am not so much leaving McGill as accepting different challenges at Sick Kids.

"I might add that I was profoundly moved emotionally at the thought of being of help to the children being cared for and their parents."

Taking over for Heaphy at McGill through the balance of the academic year will be Dean of Continuing Education Morty Yalovsky. As dean, Yalovsky has demonstrated a keen entrepreneurial edge in building new partnerships between the Centre for Continuing Education, Montreal businesses and McGill's faculties. He is also a management science professor who teaches courses in statistical methodology and forecasting models to MBA and PhD students in the Faculty of Management. Modelling, applied statistics and forecasting are some of his research interests -- skills that will probably come in handy in his new role as acting vice-principal (administration and finance).

Robin Eley, director of the Centre for Continuing Education's Department of Career and Management Studies, will take over as the centre's acting dean. Both men will carry on until a permanent replacement for Heaphy is found. In an e-mailed announcement about Heaphy's impending departure to McGill staff, Principal Bernard Shapiro pledged to begin the search immediately.

Heaphy will do her part to help make the transition period as smooth as possible. After she begins her new job, she will continue to spend one day a week at McGill until the end of 1999.

Heaphy is widely credited with making McGill's budgetary challenges and processes more understandable. At a McGill Women's Networking Group event to honour outgoing chancellor Gretta Chambers earlier this year, Chambers took the opportunity to pay homage to other women at McGill, including Heaphy.

"She has humanized that budget," said Chambers. "She's made it more understandable to lay people. Nobody can be happy with the budget -- you can't be happy when you're being cut to the bone. But at least there is a feeling of ownership that has never been there before."

Some of Heaphy's moves have been controversial. The outsourcing of the management of the McGill Bookstore to Chapters was a hotly debated decision. While some praised the move, others believed it was part of a worrisome trend that saw the influence of corporations becoming more evident in how the University operated.

In summing up her own contributions to McGill, Heaphy said she is proudest of the role she played in helping McGill cope with a series of devastating budget cuts. "I am pleased to be leaving the University in much sounder financial shape than when I came, in spite of the murderous grant cuts we have suffered in the past four years."

Asked if she had any parting thoughts for the University community, Heaphy responded, "I would like to repeat my conviction that financial prudence, for a university just as in our private lives, 'pays off' in the long run. Living beyond our means, while delightful at the beginning as we purchase all the things we believe we need and deserve, always ends in pain, tears and deterioration."