The University of Prince Edward Island’s board of directors announced yesterday it has selected Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz as the university’s next president. Dr. Abd-El-Aziz, who is currently the provost at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, will take the helm of UPEI next July. Born in Cairo, he moved to Canada in 1985.
While I don’t wish to make too much of this (although a blog post may be doing just that), I note that he joins other Canadian university presidents such as: Amit Chakma (University of Western Ontario), Feridun Hamdullahpur (University of Waterloo), Mamdouh Shoukri (York University), Indira V. Samarasekera (University of Alberta) and George Iwama (University of Northern British Columbia).
Each born outside Canada, all of these individuals deserve recognition for their accomplishments irrespective of their places of origin. But, it is interesting to note that most of them came to Canada initially for their graduate studies and stayed. They are joined by several other university presidents in Canada who came here from the more traditional source countries of Western Europe and other English-speaking nations.
There has been much talk recently within the higher-ed sector and government circles that Canada needs to attract the best and the brightest from around the world. If these individuals are any indication, we are succeeding at least in one arena.