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Bill Flanagan named president of University of Alberta

Dean of Queen’s Faculty of Law for 14 years, Bill Flanagan to lead the university at a ‘critical juncture.’

Bill Flanagan
Bill Flanagan, who led the Queen's Faculty of Law as dean for 14 years, has been named the 14th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta. (Queen's University / Greg Black)

Kate Chisholm, QC, chair of the University of Alberta Board of Governors, announced on Thursday that Bill Flanagan, dean of Queen’s Law from 2005-2019, will be the next president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta, effective July 1,

“After an extensive international search and careful consideration of many outstanding candidates, we are proud to select Bill Flanagan – an outstanding academic leader and innovator,” she said.

With the University of Alberta at a “critical juncture,” given dramatic shifts in the province’s postsecondary landscape and its immediate reaction to the coronavirus pandemic, Chisholm cited Flanagan’s “proven ability to identify opportunities for growth to the benefit of the research and teaching mission of the whole university” at Queen’s Law as key to his selection for the role. 

“The school’s reputation for research and teaching excellence deepened, and students’ learning experience was enriched by a larger range of learning opportunities and fully renovated learning environments,” Chisholm said of Flanagan’s time as dean.  

Under Flanagan’s leadership at Queen’s, the law school established a PhD Program, the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace, three pro bono legal aid clinics, and two online programs: the Certificate in Law for undergraduate students, and the Graduate Diploma in Legal Services Management for law students and practising lawyers. It also saw the expansion of its international program at the Bader International Studies Centre (BISC), where Flanagan’s guidance and influence led to alumni establishing a fund in his name, the Bill Flanagan International Studies Award, upon his departure in 2019. 

“The decisions and solutions we reach today will set the trajectory of this university for years and decades to come. Bill Flanagan will guide that trajectory and position the University of Alberta to excel,” Chisholm said.

For President-elect Flanagan, his new position is “a very exciting opportunity.” He’ll also be returning to his home province. 

“I grew up in Alberta,” he said in a statement. “I know the significance of the university and its importance not only to Alberta but the country, and really the world. I’m absolutely delighted to have this chance to serve as president and vice-chancellor.”