Duncan Watt speaks during his retirement celebration.

Carleton Bids Farewell to Retiring VP Duncan Watt

By Kirsten Fenn

Photos by Justin Tang

Carleton staff, retirees, family and friends made their way down a red carpet to the cheering of the Ravens Rhythm team and Rodney Raven as they gathered to celebrate the accomplishments of retiring Vice-President (Finance and Administration) Duncan Watt in the River Building on Thursday, June 17.

Watt, who has served at Carleton for 22 years, officially retires on June 30, 2016.

“Carleton today is profoundly different than when Duncan became vice-president,” Dick Brown, a Carleton retiree and friend of Watt’s, said in an opening speech at the celebration.

Watt came to Carleton in 1994 as associate vice-president and was appointed vice-president in 1996.

Since he joined the university administration, the number of students at Carleton has nearly doubled, Brown said. The university’s fiscal health has strengthened and the face of campus has changed drastically, with 47 buildings existing today compared to 29 when Watt arrived.

“Duncan’s organizational initiatives and his customer service-focused approach to providing administrative services have contributed greatly to that success,” he said. “I’m confident that these will continue to guide and influence Carleton’s operations in the years ahead.”

Watt has demonstrated exceptional leadership, guiding Carleton through difficult financial times and dedicating energy to service excellence across campus.

To honour those achievements, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson made a special appearance at the celebration to declare June 16, 2016 as Duncan Watt Day in the City of Ottawa.

“It’s a tough job in an academic institution to be the vice-president of finance,” Watson said. “You’ve left a positive legacy at the university, not just at Carleton, but with other colleagues around the country . . .  for the way you handle financial challenges.”

Besides his work in the office, Watt brought his love of sports to Carleton, where he’s been known to skip promptly over to the Ice House during lunch hour for a game of pick-up hockey with colleagues.

Watt, whose two daughters played for the Ravens varsity hockey and soccer teams, has been a strong supporter of Carleton’s athletics programs.

His daughters Emily and Sara spoke about the “tip of the game” their dad would offer after every one of their sports games, and his constant support from the sidelines, as well as in their family life.

“While he was here crunching numbers at Carleton for the past 22 years,” said Emily, “at home he was our coach, tutor, chef, chauffeur and, at times, a shoulder to cry on.”

Although he is graduating from his role at Carleton into the next stage of life, his legacy will live on through a new scholarship endowed in his name. The Duncan R. Watt Scholarship in Athletics will be awarded to outstanding female student-athletes on Carleton’s varsity women’s soccer or hockey teams.

“Duncan is a good listener whom we all trust, because we know he cares for Carleton,” said President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. “Mr. Watt dug us out of our financial woes and now, thanks to his efforts, we can imagine a future where Carleton will be known for the leader it already is.”

“It’s a complex enterprise we work in and it can be a challenging environment to work in sometimes,” Watt said, extending his thanks to colleagues across the university for their hard work and support.

He added that his time at Carleton has been “a family affair” for him, his two daughters and his wife.

“I could not have accomplished all that I have without them by my side,” Watt said.