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Meric Gertler takes office as U of T's 16th president

Today, Professor Meric Gertler takes office as the University of Toronto’s 16th president, a role that he says will be both “challenging and exhilarating.”

His appointment is the result of an international search that began in June of 2012 to find a successor to Professor David Naylor, who is returning to the Faculty of Medicine after serving as president for the past eight years.

President Gertler has served as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science–U of T’s largest and most diverse academic division–since December, 2008.  As president, he’ll be responsible for “general supervision over and direction of the academic work of the University and the teaching and administrative staffs thereof,” according to the University of Toronto Act, 1971.

Though Gertler begins his new role today, he will be officially installed as president by Governing Council Chair Judy Goldring in a ceremony in Convocation Hall at 3 p.m. on November 7.

Naylor and Gertler have been working together to ensure a smooth transition since the appointment was announced on March 4. Naylor says the University is in capable hands.

“Meric Gertler is an outstanding scholar, a strong and experienced academic leader, a gifted teacher and an individual of vision and integrity who is deeply and thoroughly committed to this institution and its special place in Canada and the world,” he says. “President Gertler will be drawing not only on his own remarkable talents, but on the support of the extraordinary U of T community. I look forward with excitement to the University’s accelerating progress on our 16th president’s watch.”

Gertler in turn paid tribute to his predecessor.

“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,” says Gertler. “Under David Naylor’s leadership, the University of Toronto is now firmly entrenched as a world leader in teaching and research. As president, he embraced many opportunities, he weathered some turbulence, and he challenged our faculty, staff and students to be the best in everything they do. He has led by example, never compromising in his ideals or his vision for this great institution.”

Gertler says he is both honoured and humbled by his new role.

“I am aware of the scale of the task before me, but also of the tremendous opportunities that lie ahead. To be chosen to lead the University of Toronto during a time of great change in our sector is both challenging and exhilarating. My goal is to ensure that the University’s tradition of innovation and excellence continues.

“I am truly excited at the possibilities before us. I look forward to serving our students, our faculty and staff to the very best of my abilities.”

Gertler came to U of T’s Department of Geography in 1983 after receiving his doctorate from Harvard University. He also holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts from McMaster University and a master’s degree in city planning from the University of California, Berkeley.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Academy of Social Sciences in the United Kingdom, Gertler 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. 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 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and the Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

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).

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. 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. Since 1999, he 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.

To learn more about President Gertler, go to http://news.utoronto.ca/profile-professor-meric-gertler

For more information about the Office of the President and its history, go to http://www.president.utoronto.ca

Terry Lavender is a writer with University Relations at the University of Toronto.