Champagne to take on executive role with Union

Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros
Photo by Andreas Patsiaouros

The Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union has welcomed a new executive director and chief operating officer into their office — former director of programming and member services, Phil Champagne.

Champagne, who is also a Laurier alumnus, has been a member of the Students’ Union since 2001. Champagne said the role of executive director will be a new experience for him from his previous years working in marketing and event planning.

“Ultimately at this stage it’s all about learning for me and being a supportive member for [president and CEO] Sam [Lambert] and his team, as well as the full-time staff team and ultimately learning more about the position,” said Champagne. “Having worked here as long as I have, I know a lot about the Students’ Union — the inner workings, the ins-and-outs — but right now it’s about transitioning into the role and learning what it is that the executive director specifically is supposed to be doing.”

Champagne explained that the position of executive director is a support role for the Students’ Union, particularly the board of directors, vice-presidents and president.

“Essentially I’m there to make sure we don’t go off the rails at the end of those terms and the beginning of the next term,” he said.

So far, Champagne does not have any plans as his new position started on Jan. 12. However, with Students’ Union elections coming up at the beginning of February, Champagne said he’s interested in learning about what the new student executive will be about and how he can support them throughout their term.

The transition period for the position will take place throughout January. Champagne will also help transition in new full-time and part-time staff after the departure of two marketing and communication members, Kat Lourenco and Matt Tonkin, as well as former assistant controller, Spiwe Mapuranga.

Champagne will also deal with the challenges of transitioning from an event-planning role to an administrative role without a predecessor being present.

“It’s basically transitioning from my previous role into this new role and transitioning other staff members to kind of fill the gaps of what I’ve left behind because there’s obviously nobody doing my old job anymore,” he explained. “There are a lot of immediate details that we have to deal with, so the transition is going to be fast and furious.”

“He didn’t really have a huge opportunity for transition — it’s kind of baptism by fire a little bit,” Lambert said of Champagne’s learning curve.

He also said the Union will build upon the path of former executive director, Roly Webster.

“I think that my predecessor … did an amazing job setting us on a much more prosperous path and it’s going to continue building on his work and momentum that was created with him in this position.”

According to Lambert, Champagne’s transition to executive director requires knowledge Lambert has gained over his term as the student ambassador.

“It’s a different kind of knowledge experience with the campus partners, so as much as he is a support for me, I want to make sure that I’m a support for him because he’s a continuing steward of the organization,” he explained.

As executive director, which is a stationary position while student executives change every year, Champagne will act as the gatherer of information for Lambert in order to make decisions for the Union.

“We’re really excited to have Phil on board and I don’t think there’s anyone better for the job,” Lambert said.



Leave a Reply