Dr. Alan Shepard, one of the country’s most innovative postsecondary leaders, will become the 11th President and Vice-Chancellor of Western University on July 1, 2019, Board of Governors officials announced today.
Currently President of Concordia University in Montreal, Shepard was applauded by members of the Presidential Selection Committee for his leadership, character and ability to embed research, teaching and service excellence into an institutional culture. They also noted his insistence that the best universities are ones sewn tightly within the fabric of both their local and global communities.
“Universities face numerous challenges. But in those challenges are exciting opportunities for our further growth and evolution. Our search focused on finding a leader up to those challenges,” explained Paul Jenkins, the Board of Governors Chair who led the Presidential Selection Committee.
“In Dr. Shepard, we have discovered a clear-eyed, innovative, forward-looking thinker with a belief in collaborative leadership and open communications. He brings an impressive level of humility and humanity to the job. He is authentic as a leader, as an educator and as a person.”
Western is well-positioned to build on the incredible foundation of success of the last decade under President Amit Chakma’s leadership, said Jenkins. He said Shepard is just the leader to take Western to the next level.
“At every stop in his career, Dr. Shepard has been a creator – not a caretaker,” Jenkins said. “He is part of an up-and-coming generation of postsecondary leaders determined to make the university a vehicle for driving society forward. He understands that learning does not stop at our gates and, likewise, neither should the impact of our ideas and discoveries.”
American-born, Shepard was the first of his family to attend university when he enrolled in St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as an undergraduate, he earned a PhD in English from the University of Virginia.
Shepard arrives at Western from Concordia University in Montreal, where he has served as President and Vice-Chancellor since 2012 and worked to position its national and international reputation as a dynamic, next-generation university. There, he has had a significant record of innovation and achievement. He has been effective in championing innovation proposals such as a Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) award, new graduate programs and substantial increases in Tri-Council and sponsored research funding, as well as financial aid for students.
Prior to Concordia, Shepard served as Provost and Vice-President (Academic) at Ryerson University. There, he intensified the institution’s research and teaching capacity, while furthering investments in entrepreneurship and innovation with a particular focus on student-led initiatives. Shepard led the development of the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), a business incubator in downtown
Toronto targeting early-stage technology startups. Since its launch in April 2010, the DMZ has incubated and accelerated student- and alumni-led companies, with substantial economic impact.
Throughout his career, Shepard has also held leadership roles at the University of Guelph, TCU and the University of Virginia.
Shepard’s research has been supported by the University of Toronto and the Folger Library in Washington. His current and past board service includes Universities Canada, Stratford Festival of Canada and the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal.
As a leader, Shepard checked three boxes committee members wanted to see in the next president – competency, character and commitment, said Carol Stephenson, former Ivey Business School dean and a Presidential Selection Committee member. “Alan is A+ in all three,” she said. “Here is someone who understands the complexities of modern universities and what it takes to move them forward. He not only has a vision but knows how to execute it.”
Hundreds of Western community members from across campus, and around the world, contributed to the nearly year-long search process.
Chakma’s term as president will expire at the end of June 2019.
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