Western announced Alan Shepard will become the university’s 11th president and vice-chancellor starting July 1, 2019.
The new president was ratified by the Board of Governors at a meeting on Nov. 29.
An American scholar, Shepard is the current president of Concordia University in Montreal, where he was appointed in 2012. He also served as the provost and vice-president at Ryerson University prior to his appointment at Concordia.
“We began to identify the challenges facing Western looking ahead,” said Paul Jenkins, the Board of Governors' chair and head of the Presidential Selection Committee. “In Dr. Shepard, we found someone who is a clear, innovative, forward-looking thinker, someone who is up to not only meeting these challenges, but moving Western forward in the direction that we all wish to see this great university proceed in.”
“Dr. Shepard’s passion for universities came through very, very strongly to the selection committee, a passion that sees the importance of universities as a way of moving society forward to the benefit of everyone,” added Jenkins.
Shepard was the first of his family to attend university at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He went on to earn a doctorate in English from the University of Virginia.
Throughout his career, Shepard played a significant role in furthering graduate programs, student financial aid and sponsored research funding. He also spearheaded a number of projects, including the Digital Media Zone, a business incubator for technology start-ups that targets student- and alumni-led companies.
“I’ve loved universities since I was a first-year student myself, and I’m very much looking forward to working with the Western community as it continues to grow and thrive,” said Shepard.
The search for a new president began last January, after the current Western president Amit Chakma announced he would not be seeking a third term. Chakma served as Western’s 10th president for the past nine years, starting in 2009. His second term ends on June 30, 2019.