Quick Links

Appointment of new Vice-Principal of Information Systems and Technology

Published: 25 Nov 1997

Professor Bruce Pennycook is appointed as new vice-principal in charge of information systems and technology.

Renowned musician takes on the mandate

Professor Bruce Pennycook, a composer and faculty member trained as a classical and jazz saxophone performer, renowned for his expertise in electronic music as well as for his entrepreneurial skills in managing his own technology company, has been named to the position of Vice-Principal (Information Systems and Technology). McGill Principal Bernard Shapiro announced the unanimous selection, following approval last night by the Board of Governors. This new position is intended to replace the post vacated by former Vice-Principal, Planning and Resources François Tavenas, now rector of Laval University.

Currently on sabbatic leave in Mexico with his wife, who also teaches in the Faculty of Music, and their four young children, Pennycook will interrupt his sabbatical to return in January 1998, when he will assume his new responsibilities. His reaction to the news of his appointment? "I’ve been developing and using computer technologies for mainly artistic purposes for more than 20 years - it’s gratifying to me that the Selection Committee considered this odd mixture of art, science and technology appropriate for the new position."

Principal Shapiro comments: "It will be very exciting to work with Dr. Pennycook on such a crucial dossier for the University. His energy, enthusiasm, and richly-varied experience will provide the high level of focused leadership needed in this increasingly important area." Shapiro adds, "One of the things I admire most about him is his capacity to engage people in a serious discussion of technology issues without either patronizing or confusing them. He has succeeded remarkably in grasping and applying the positive aspects of technology in his teaching and in his research, and I am impressed with his innovative talents in marketing the results to the private sector."

Members of the Selection Committee came from many areas of campus, including the Computing Centre, the Libraries, the teaching staff and the student body. According to Director of Libraries Frances Groen, Dr. Pennycook’s job will be "to stimulate new thinking and new approaches to technology at McGill within the current management structure." Computing Centre director Alan Greenberg concurs, noting that Pennycook brings with him an interesting combination of qualities, enriched by his involvement in, for example, writing and administering McGill’s Code of Computing Conduct. "His use of technology in an academic environment has been ground-breaking," says Greenberg.

Students’ Society vice-president Elizabeth Gomery, who also sat on the selection committee, adds, "He’s a great choice from the student perspective - he’s very positive and reassuring about how technology can help students, and he is able to communicate his excitement about the potential it brings to serve student needs."

After studying music at the University of Toronto and completing his doctorate at Stanford University, Bruce Pennycook was recruited to McGill’s department of music theory in 1987. Before that he had taught in the departments of Music and Computing and Information Science at Queen’s, and in 1988 founded his own company, Image & Audio Systems. Three years ago, he developed a graduate program at McGill in Music, Media and Technology, embracing two master’s degrees - one in sound recording and the other in computer applications in music - as well as a PhD program. Among his innovations, some of them partly funded by the McGill Royal Bank Teaching Innovation Fund, is a web-based presentation of Canadian composers and compositions and a graduate seminar devoted to music and audio on the Internet.

"We are very proud that an artist and musician from our faculty will be able to share his expertise more widely with the whole University," declares Faculty of Music dean Rick Lawton.

How does the new vice-principal see his role as "chief information officer," a role described by a senior British banking official in talking about himself as "director of applied lunacy?" Pennycook responds that "Coming from the world of creative arts, I am comfortable with all forms of "applied lunacy"! The accelerating convergence of media, telecommunications and computers cannot be ignored. McGill has an opportunity to become a world leader in the application of digital systems across the entire academic spectrum. Given all the constituencies, injecting new technologies into the University poses some very special hurdles, and I look forward to each and every one of these challenges."

Source Site: /it
Classified as: