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Alan Shepard to become president of Western University

After guiding Concordia through a 7-year period of extraordinary growth, Shepard will leave the university June 30
November 29, 2018

Concordia announced today that Alan Shepard has accepted the presidency of Western University and will be stepping down as president and vice-chancellor of Concordia in June 2019.

Shepard joined Concordia in 2012 from Toronto, where he served as provost of Ryerson University. He had previously held leadership roles in Virginia, Texas and at the University of Guelph.                         

He leaves Concordia in a very strong position. During his six-year tenure, the university has steadily climbed national and international rankings; it is currently rated the top university in Canada under 50 years old by both Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) and Times Higher Education, and second in North America by QS.

It is earning record research funding. And applications and enrolment have grown broadly: Concordia today counts more than 8,500 international students among a total of more than 50,000, making it one of Canada’s largest comprehensive universities.

Concordia enjoyed a period of extraordinary growth with Shepard at the helm. Starting in 2015, he led the university community through broad consultations that resulted in nine Strategic Directions, the institution’s roadmap guiding its development.

From those Directions flowed many initiatives that have distinguished Concordia as a next-generation university, including: the Public Scholars Program, the Horizon Postdoctoral Fellows Program, the Institute for Urban Futures, Concordia University Press, the Indigenous Directions Leadership Group, 4TH SPACE research hub, the university’s comprehensive Digital Strategy, and the largest fundraising effort in the institution’s history, the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now.

“Alan Shepard is a builder and inspiring leader,” said Norman Hébert Jr., chair of Concordia’s Board of Governors. “He rallied the community around the Strategic Directions, strengthening both Concordia’s research and teaching in the process. The success of our fundraising campaign demonstrates the sense of momentum and pride Alan has helped build. In an era when bold, urban universities are well positioned to thrive, Concordia is enjoying unprecedented opportunities and is positioning itself as a higher education leader in Canada. As he prepares to take on new challenges at a different kind of institution, I can truly say Alan has left Concordia much stronger than he found it, and the Board is extremely grateful.”

“Alan quickly won the respect of the Concordia and Montreal communities by creating new opportunities for innovation,” said Françoise Bertrand, vice-chair (external) of Concordia’s Board of Governors. “Upon arriving, he launched the District 3 entrepreneurship incubator, open not just to Concordians, but to all. District 3 has been a game-changer in Montreal’s innovation ecosystem, winning numerous awards for coaching nearly 400 startups and creating hundreds of jobs. Alan has helped make Concordia itself an innovation hub and a major player on the Montreal and Quebec stages.”

Frédérica Martin, vice-chair (internal) of the Board of Governors, added: “Alan arrived at a critical time for Concordia. The positive climate he created has improved labour relations, produced a strong senior leadership team and encouraged women to grow as leaders. The renaming of the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science, Canada’s first such faculty named after a woman, is just one example of his capacity to inspire the next generation of leaders.”

For his part, Alan Shepard commented: “The Concordia community has been very welcoming to me and my family and I have truly enjoyed my time here. The openness and dynamism of Concordians is unique – I’ll certainly miss that. I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished together and look forward to seeing Concordia continue its strong momentum for years to come. I will always be a huge fan of Concordia.”

Concordia’s Board of Governors will begin the search for a new president immediately. In accordance with its Policy on Senior Administrative Appointments, the Board has established an advisory search committee, which will be chaired by Board Chair Norman Hébert Jr.

Graham Carr, Concordia’s provost and vice-president of Academic Affairs, has agreed to serve as interim president starting July 1st. Carr, a professor of history, served Concordia as dean of Graduate Studies and vice-president of Research and Graduate Studies before taking up his current role in 2016. Anne Whitelaw, a professor of art history and deputy provost, will serve as interim provost.

Read Concordia President Alan Shepard's message to the community.

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