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Margin Notes

The global presidency at Canada’s universities

More than a quarter of current executive heads were born abroad.


A senior analyst at the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada was doing a bit of research and discovered that slightly more than one-quarter of the executive heads of AUCC’s member institutions were born outside Canada. AUCC represents 95 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities and university-degree level colleges, and 25 of those institutions (26.3 percent) are currently headed by an individual who was not born in Canada.

It was just a quick bit of research, so I don’t know how many of these individuals have Canadian citizenship or how much of their lives they have been spent in the country.

Seven of the current presidents or rectors were born in the U.K., six in the U.S., two each in the Netherlands and Egypt, and one each in South Africa, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Austria, Japan, Bangladesh and Turkey. Finally, there is one rector who was born in Europe, but the country was unspecified.

I did a blog post last November which touched on this topic, and like then, I don’t want to make too much of it. But I do think it shows that Canada’s universities are becoming more “global” and clearly have been successful at attracting top talent from abroad. And, obviously, some of these top scholars have excelled in Canada, rising to the senior executive ranks. Both healthy signs, I would think.

Léo Charbonneau
Léo Charbonneau is the editor of University Affairs.
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