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University's Lero eyes possibilities [CA-ON]

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Thompson, Kerry
Publication Date: 
23 Jun 2003

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Donna Lero is already dreaming of the possibilities her new position will bring.

The University of Guelph professor has been named the Jarislowsky Chair in Families and Work, the first chair of its kind at a Canadian institution.

"I'm just thrilled," Lero said while sitting in her office recently.

"It's a wonderful opportunity, it provides the funding support that is needed, and allows me the opportunity to travel and make connections."

The chair was endowed with $1 million, $500,000 from the Jarislowsky Foundation, and matching funds from the University of Guelph.

The Jarislowsky Foundation, headed by Stephen Jarislowsky, was established to support university chairs, medical equipment purchases and research. The new U of G chair will be the 10th funded by the foundation.

Lero, a professor at Guelph since 1974, and co-founder of the Centre for Families, Work and Well-Being at the university, said issues surrounding work and family are highly inter-related.

The centre, she said, "looks at strong families, healthy and productive working environments, and a strong community that supports that."

The funding for the chair will allow Lero to pursue some of her own research interests, such as parental leave policies and how companies adapt to work and family responsibilities. She will also create a new course at the university, focusing on work and family issues.

"These (parental leave) policies are great, if you're qualified for them," she said, adding some Canadian women are left out of the loop for paid maternity leave if they are working part-time or in contract positions.

Jarislowsky, speaking from his office in Montreal, believes Lero "is the right person."

Jarislowsky is chair of the investment counsel firm Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., which manages investments for a number of universities, including the U of G. The foundation was set up to help put resources into post-secondary institutions. Studying the relationship between work and family, he said, is a priority.

reprinted from Guelph Mercury.