A passion for public service
There was enthusiastic applause from the crowd gathered for Simon Fraser University's most recent fall convocation when newly installed president Andrew Petter took a spontaneous spin on stage in his new robes. In the audience, Carole Taylor, draped in her own University of Toronto colours, beamed her trademark smile at the moment.
There to support SFU's next leader and celebrate his official arrival, and seated in the crowd alongside former UBC president Martha Piper, Taylor watched with further delight as the pomp and ceremony of graduation – heralding what would be the next phase of her own prolific career – was played out in Convocation Mall.
In June, the former journalist, politician, and one of Canada's most respected community leaders becomes SFU's 10th chancellor. "This is an opportunity that pulls together so many things that have interested me throughout my career," says Taylor. "It's an extremely motivating time and place to be right now."
Since her appointment was announced last fall, reaction has been positive. Among the accolades was a congratulatory note from Canada's Governor General David Johnston, applauding the move and referring to SFU as a creative and innovative university. "The consensus seems to be it's a good fit," Taylor says. "For me it's a wonderful opportunity to give back and concentrate on education and the future of students."
Her family celebrated together a few months later. Taylor, 64, and husband Art Phillips, former mayor of Vancouver, maintain a tradition of gathering with their two children at Whistler every year over the holiday season: son Christopher, 39, a New York writer with two children, and daughter Samantha, 29, a doctor now completing her second year as a resident specializing in emergency medicine. "We've always done this; our kids just expect it," says Taylor. "Everyone shows up here. It's a family tradition."
While the family is together Taylor finds solace in the kitchen, baking a host of seasonal desserts. "It's therapy, really," she says. Among her specialties: Christmas pudding, a tantalizing chocolate macadamia nut pie, and Art's favorite, Julia Child's Bombe Aux Trios, featuring three kinds of chocolate. "That one takes time," Taylor admits, "but it's a must-do."
With a New Year's resolution to stay in shape, Taylor works out with weights three times a week. "Both in Victoria and Vancouver I was fortunate enough to live about 25 minutes from work, and it became the habit to walk. Once you get into a pattern of doing it a lot, it becomes the norm."