WLU hires gov’t relations director

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Starting next Monday, Wilfrid Laurier University will be welcoming a new member to its team.  Maria Papadopoulos, who has formerly worked as a government policy advisor, as well as in government relations, will be starting in the position of director of government relations.

Papadopoulos believes her previous work, both in government and at the university level, place her in a strong position to get started quickly with her work at WLU.

“My experience at York University has provided me with the foundations of what the role is, so I’ll be able to hit the ground running,” she said.

“I do have an understanding and a pulse of the issues that are taking place at Queen’s Park, from a government and an opposition perspective, so I think I’m well-positioned to advance those goals of the university.”Most recently, Papadopoulos worked as the senior policy advisor to Minister of Finance Charles Sousa.

She also previously worked for York University as the government policy advisor.

The government policy advisor acts as a bridge between the interests of the university, including its staff, faculty and students, and occurrences at the provincial educational level.

This will require Papadopoulos to act as a go-between with government officials, including MPPs and ministry officials, and people at Laurier.

Her first step, she says, will be meeting with the university president, Max Blouw, as well as talking with different student organizations “and getting a sense of what their priorities are.”

While Papadopoulos doesn’t expect to be able to meet with a large amount of individuals in the student body, she intends to speak with representatives to get an understanding of the issues at stake.

“I think my first step would be probably to meet with the elected student government and get a sense of what their take is,” she said.

Of course, with the many actors involved at a post-secondary level, it’s inevitable that differing priorities will emerge.
Government, students, staff members and university officials, for example, may have differing positions on a contentious and evolving discussion topic like tuition costs.

When asked how she would respond to a potentially divisive issue, such as tuition, Papadopoulos replied, “I think it would be good for me to get the viewpoints of all individuals involved, so I would want to know the viewpoint, of course, of the student organizations.”

“And I have worked with OUSA [Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance] in my role working for government to talk about what their position is vis-à-vis tuition and of course getting to know the administration’s position as well and hopefully coming up with a common solution and advancing that.”

For now, she’ll be settling into the role and keeping an eye on provincial politics, something that may be particularly important given recent rumblings of an early Ontario election.

“At this point it’ll be monitoring what’s going on at the provincial level. They are a minority government at this point in time, so looking to see what signals we’re going to be receiving from government vis-à-vis post-secondary education and what their aspirations are, and most importantly, advancing those … issues for Laurier,” said Papadopoulos.

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