Dr. Alan Shepard

Western University Names 11th President & Vice-Chancellor

Greg Bowman

The search is over.

After nearly 12 months of deliberation, Western University has finally named Dr. Alan Shepard the 11th President and Vice-Chancellor in the school’s 140-year history.

Dr. Shepard will be replacing Amit Chakma, who has held the position since 2009, but will not be seeking a new term come July, 2019.

Shepard has extensive experience leading some well-known universities. He is currently the President at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, where he has been for the past seven years.

Prior to that, Dr. Shepard was the Provost and Vice-President at Ryerson University in Toronto. He has also held leadership positions at the University of Guelph, Texas Christian University and the University of Virginia.

Born in the United States, he was the first member of his family to attend university, enrolled as an undergrad at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Shepard has been a permanent resident of Canada since 2002, and is a dual-citizen.
Dr. Shepard’s leadership may benefit Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business, as he took a particular focus in entrepreneurship and innovation during his time at Ryerson.  He led the inception of the Digital Media Zone (DMZ): a Toronto-based company that targets early-stage tech startups-- namely students and young alumni-- that has seen impressive success since 2010.

“The interest by students and young alumni in startup culture and opportunities to build around services, products and even companies is really powerful. That’s something that Ivey’s already participating in..I want to continue that and maybe build it further. It’s a big deal for the next generation and it’s a big deal for Canadian prosperity,” said Shepard when asked about the Ivey Business School.

Another trait that Dr. Shepard plans to bring from his previous leadership roles is heavy student engagement.

“I love talking to students, and part of it is spending time with students. At the beginning of every semester [at Concordia] I like to host a ‘welcome back’. In the winter in Montreal it’s usually hot chocolate. In September in the summer it’s usually a festival kind of thing.”

He is also interested in engaging with the student media on campus: “I regularly meet with student leaders, I meet with student press about every two to three weeks. For me, building a community is really matters. When the community feels strong and well-engaged, the whole place will [benefit].”

The President in-waiting declined to comment on pertinent issues such as “fake homecoming”, the Bus Rapid Transit System, and the perceived ‘partying reputation’ of Western University stating: “I’m familiar with the issues, but I don’t have any words of wisdom for you yet on that one.”

Dr. Shepard will take the next seven months to prepare for his upcoming position at Western, which he will take over on July 1st, 2019.