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Q&A: Meet David Cameron

You have a lot of very exciting things going on in your career. Why did you agree to take on the interim dean role?
I was asked to give a convocation address a year or so ago. One of the homilies I offered to the graduates was this: “As much as you can, say yes, rather than no. Take on more than you think you can handle. God loves a willing giver.” I’m just putting my money where my mouth is.

David Cameron will will lead the Faculty through 2019. This Q&A was conducted when  Cameron was named interim dean.

Any advice for your colleagues on how to juggle research and administrative work?
Schedule regular research time. Leave your office. Turn off your email. I am better at giving this advice than following it.

What makes the Faculty of Arts & Science unique?
Its size, its complexity, and the awesome pool of talent that lies within it.

What will your priorities be as interim dean?
In any academic administrative job, the first and most important thing you are trying to do is help to release the energies and imagination of the faculty and students who make the university what it is. The title – if not the content – of John Le Carré’s book, The Constant Gardener, comes to mind.  

You are an expert on federalism, Quebec nationalism, French-English relations, constitutional renewal and national unity. What lessons do you take from Canada’s own experiences when you are advising other countries on government reform?
That it is better to talk than fight. That democratic government is messy, but worthwhile. That building a country never ends. That reform is a process that takes time. That ultimately you have to do the heavy lifting yourself.

Have your international experiences affected your perspective on Canada/Toronto and if so, how?
When I come back from one of these trips, I want to make like the Pope and bend down and kiss the ground. We are lucky to live in Canada. Ayelet Shachar in the Law School has written a wonderful book called The Birthright Lottery, which argues that the most significant thing shaping the lives of human beings is the thing over which they have utterly no control: where they are born. Canadians – native born or citizens by choice – have won the lottery hands down.