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Biography of Professor Meric Gertler

March 4, 2013

President-designate of the University of Toronto

Professor Meric Gertler is one of the world’s foremost urban theorists and policy practitioners. He is widely known as an expert on innovation, creativity and culture as drivers of the economic dynamism of city-regions.

On March 4, 2013, Professor Gertler was named the 16th President of the University of Toronto. He currently serves as the Dean of the University of Toronto’s largest and most diverse academic division, the Faculty of Arts & Science, a position he has held since December 1, 2008.

Internationally renowned as a distinguished scholar, Professor Gertler’s research focuses on the geography of innovative activity and the economies of city-regions. He has been a frequent advisor to government agencies at all levels, both in Canada and abroad, as well as to multilateral organizations such as the European Union and the OECD.

Professor Gertler is Professor of Geography and Planning, holds the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies at University College and was the founding co-director of the Program on Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems (PROGRIS) at the Munk School of Global Affairs. He has previously served as the Vice Dean of Graduate Education and Research in the Faculty of Arts & Science and as director of the Department of Geography’s Program in Planning. He has been a Senior Fellow of Massey College since 2000 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 2003.

His research has attracted $8.4 million in external funding.  In 2012, he was listed as one of Canada’s top researchers in the field of geography by The Globe and Mail.

Professor Gertler is the author, co-author or co-editor of more than 80 scholarly publications and six books.  These have had significant impact in his field and have led him to be one of Canada’s most highly cited geographers. He is co-editor of the widely used Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography and winner of Choice Magazine’s “Outstanding Academic Book” award. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford University, University College London, UCLA, and the University of Oslo. He won the 2007 Award for Scholarly Distinction from the Canadian Association of Geographers. Professor Gertler was also a member of the Expert Panel on Business Innovation established by the Council of Canadian Academies, which published its landmark report “Innovation and Business Strategy: Why Canada Falls Short” to wide acclaim in 2009.

In May 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctor of philosophy from Lund University, Sweden for his exceptional contributions to the fields of economic geography and regional development. In the same year, he was made an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences (UK).

As Dean of Arts & Science, Professor Gertler has focused on providing students with a top quality academic experience in which they benefit directly from U of T’s strength and diversity in research and teaching. Since his term began, undergraduate education in the Faculty of Arts & Science has undergone a fundamental transformation. Today’s curriculum has a renewed emphasis on breadth in preparing global citizens and ensuring all students graduate with core competencies in critical thinking, writing, quantitative reasoning, problem solving and ethical awareness. He has also focused on significantly increasing the number and range of research and international academic opportunities for Arts & Science students. He has supervised 56 master’s students and 12 doctoral students as well as 11 undergraduate theses.

Professor Gertler completed his undergraduate education at McMaster University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude in 1977. He completed a Master of City Planning degree at the University of California, Berkeley in 1979 and a PhD from Harvard University in 1983. His doctoral thesis was entitled, Capital Dynamics and Regional Development.