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Kate Williams will be leaving McGill and her position as director of the University Relations Office (which produces the McGill Reporter). She's going to travel with her husband Roger, eschewing Montreal's frosty winter for milder climes in England, France and Italy.
After 18 years in the office (the last 13 years as its head), promoting McGill, soothing professors, quashing rumours and dispensing media advice, Kate's break from work is well deserved.
I know first hand what a dedicated manager she is, breezing through the two campuses, a one-woman welcome wagon. An endless source of information on McGill and its wide-reaching community, Kate blends practicality with kindness, forthrightness with smooth words -- a suitable blend for working in the quirky university environment.
Ex-Principal Bernard Shapiro wrote me that, "Coming to know and work with Kate Williams is rather like coming into contact with the entire living history of McGill. She was able at all times to be in the present while at the same time respecting and building on the most exciting traditions of our past."
At Kate's going away soirée, Principal Heather Munroe-Blum said of her first days at McGill, "as long as I stayed close to and learned from Kate, I couldn't go wrong.
"McGill is literally in her DNA," she added. As a granddaughter of Wilder Penfield, founder of the Montreal Neurological Institute, Kate's ties to McGill are more than just professional. She never lost sight of the moorings of her family -- past and present.
Kate balances her hectic schedule with Tai Chi classes with Roger ("If I don't want to be pushing up daisies, I'd better be 'pushing hands,'" she once told me), gardening and a busy family and social life. She was once a restaurant reviewer and cooking is still a passion.
I doubt anyone's using the word "retiring" to describe Kate. Tireless is more like it. I wouldn't be surprised if her boundless energy and allegiance to McGill leads her back in some capacity. Although McGill will keep simmering away without her, Kate's extra touch of love will be missed.