U of A announces 14th president: Bill Flanagan

Flanagan said he is "immensely honoured" and "profoundly excited" to begin his new role in July

The University of Alberta has a new president-elect who will assume the role effective July 1, 2020.

Bill Flanagan will take over the role of president and vice-chancellor from David Turpin. Turpin was appointed in November of 2014 for a term ending on June 30, 2020. He announced he would not seek re-appointment in March of 2019.

Flanagan is a former dean of law from Queen’s University. He served there for 14 years from 2005 to 2019. Flanagan holds a BA in English and philosophy from Carleton University, a JD from the University of Toronto, a Diplôme d’études approfondies — or degree of advanced studies — in International Economic Law from Université Paris I-Sorbonne, and a masters of law from Columbia University. His academic work spans from property, corporate, and international trade law. 

Flanagan’s appointment was announced through a blog post on the U of A website written by Kate Chisholm, Board of Governors chair.

Chisholm said she was “proud” to announce Flanagan as the next president of the U of A.

“We are proud to select Bill Flanagan — an outstanding academic leader and innovator — to guide that trajectory and position the University of Alberta to excel,” she said.

Akanksha Bhatnagar, president of the Students’ Union and member of the presidential search committee, said she is “thrilled” to have Flanagan as the next president of the institution.

“He truly understands the student heartbeat at the U of A,” she said. “He speaks really highly of the things he has done, but he also shows through actions how much he cares about issues he is passionate about.”

In an interview with The Gateway, Flanagan said he is “immensely honoured” and “profoundly excited” to begin working as the next president. He was contacted in the fall of 2019 for an interview as part of the presidential selection committee. He found out in February that he was selected as the next president-elect.

Flanagan said while he was born and raised in Alberta, he didn’t attend the U of A due to wanting to learn and develop his French language skills. He moved out east and became a parliamentary page part-time as he attended university.

“That was a thrilling opportunity,” he said. “It brought me out east and I just continued my studies from there… But now I get to come back home and focus my time on an institution that is truly important to Canada and the academic world.”

“The University of Alberta has really been the jewel and crown of Alberta,” he said. “I really look forward to building on the foundational impact the institution has had on the province.”

Flanagan added that he “admires” the work Turpin has conducted throughout his term. For him, Turpin created a “long-lasting vision” and “ambitious goals” to guide the U of A forward.

“I look forward to transitioning and learning more and more about the U of A,” Flanagan said. “I cannot wait to meet the students, faculty, staff, researchers, and alumni of the U of A.”

Adam Lachacz

Adam Lachacz was the Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway for 2020-21. Previously, he was the 2019-20 News Editor, 2018-19 Staff Reporter, and a senior volunteer contributor from 2016-18. He is a fifth-year student studying history and political science. Adam is addicted to the news, an aspiring sneakerhead, and loves a good cup of black coffee.

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