Media Releases

World renowned urban expert to become 16th President of the University of Toronto

March 4, 2013

TORONTO, ON – Mer­ic Gertler, a world-renowned expert on urban issues, will be the next Pres­i­dent of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, Richard Nunn, Chair of the University’s Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil, announced today.

The appoint­ment, con­firmed by the Coun­cil this morn­ing, is for a five-year term and is the result of an inter­na­tion­al search that began in June of 2012. Gertler will become the 16th Pres­i­dent in the 186-year his­to­ry of the Uni­ver­si­ty.  He will suc­ceed David Nay­lor, Pres­i­dent since 2005.

Pro­fes­sor Gertler has been dean of the Fac­ul­ty of Arts and Sci­ence – U of T’s largest and most diverse aca­d­e­m­ic divi­sion – since Decem­ber 1, 2008. He joined the Fac­ul­ty in the Depart­ment of Geog­ra­phy in 1983 after receiv­ing his doc­tor­ate from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty.  A Fel­low of the Roy­al Soci­ety of Cana­da and a mem­ber of the Acad­e­my of Social Sci­ences in the Unit­ed King­dom, he is the author, co-author or co-edi­tor of more than 80 schol­ar­ly pub­li­ca­tions and six books.  His aca­d­e­m­ic work focus­es on the economies of cities, the urban foun­da­tions of inno­va­tion, and the role of cre­ativ­i­ty, cul­ture and diver­si­ty in urban life.

“Dean Gertler has an out­stand­ing track record at the Uni­ver­si­ty for aca­d­e­m­ic excel­lence and strong admin­is­tra­tive lead­er­ship,” said Nunn. “We are pleased those qual­i­ties will now be put to use in a new role as Pres­i­dent.”

“After an exten­sive inter­na­tion­al search, the fact we were able to find some­one of Pro­fes­sor Gertler’s stature right here is a tes­ta­ment to the depth of this great Uni­ver­si­ty,” added David Wil­son, chair of the Pres­i­den­tial Search Com­mit­tee.

Pro­fes­sor Gertler said he is deeply hon­oured to be appoint­ed to this posi­tion.

“Over the years, the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to has, time and again, proven to be a place of unpar­al­leled learn­ing and dis­cov­ery, for the best stu­dents and the best fac­ul­ty,” he said. “To be cho­sen to lead U of T dur­ing a time of great change in our sec­tor is both chal­leng­ing and exhil­a­rat­ing.  I am fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Pres­i­dent Nay­lor – a leader who has com­bined vision, hard work and ded­i­ca­tion to pro­pel the Uni­ver­si­ty to com­pete with the best insti­tu­tions in the world. This is a tremen­dous foun­da­tion upon which to build.”

Gertler’s appoint­ment will ensure the Uni­ver­si­ty can build upon its rep­u­ta­tion as a world leader in research, inno­va­tion and aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment, said Nay­lor. “Pro­fes­sor Gertler is a gift­ed schol­ar, teacher, men­tor and admin­is­tra­tor whose advice on urban issues has been sought by gov­ern­ments around the world. Along with an extra­or­di­nary breadth of knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence, Mer­ic Gertler brings to the pres­i­den­cy an unwa­ver­ing ded­i­ca­tion to excel­lence in post-sec­ondary edu­ca­tion and advanced research.”

“Over the past few months, I have been impressed by Pro­fes­sor Gertler’s lead­er­ship at the Fac­ul­ty of Arts and Sci­ence,” added Michael Wil­son, who was installed as the 33rd Chan­cel­lor of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to on Novem­ber 12th, 2012.  “As Dean, he has worked to ensure the high­est qual­i­ty aca­d­e­m­ic expe­ri­ence for stu­dents. I look for­ward to work­ing with him in his new role.”

Since 1999, Pro­fes­sor Gertler has held the Goldring Chair in Cana­di­an Stud­ies in Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege and the Depart­ment of Geog­ra­phy.  He was also the found­ing co-direc­tor of the Pro­gram on Glob­al­iza­tion and Region­al Inno­va­tion Sys­tems (PROGRIS) at the Munk School of Glob­al Affairs and has also served as direc­tor of the Depart­ment of Geography’s Pro­gram in Plan­ning.

Pro­fes­sor Gertler holds an Hon­ours Bach­e­lor of Arts from McMas­ter Uni­ver­si­ty, a master’s degree in city plan­ning from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, and a PhD from Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty.

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).

Inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned as a dis­tin­guished aca­d­e­m­ic, 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. His research has attract­ed $8.4 mil­lion in exter­nal fund­ing.

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.


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