UPDATE: Dr. David Turpin introduced as University of Alberta president-elect

EDMONTON – The University of Alberta introduced its next president Friday. Dr. David Turpin was welcomed as the president-elect.

After a global search, and applications from candidates from all over the world, the university selected Turpin, who previously led the University of Victoria and is a member of the Order of Canada to fill the role of president.

Turpin said he was humbled and honoured to serve as U of A’s president.

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“Indira, you have done a remarkable job,” he said, thanking her and her team.

“I vow to continue this legacy.”

The president-elect spoke directly to advanced education minister Don Scott, mayor Don Iveson and the staff and students.

The university, he said, “faces a rare and enviable opportunity.” Turpin said Edmonton is one of the most entrepreneurial cities and Alberta is a powerful economic driver.

“This opportunity is ours to seize.”

“My commitment to you is to learn from you and to work tirelessly with you,” said Turpin.

In his introduction, U of A board chair Doug Goss said the president-elect has successfully advocated for support of advanced-level education.

“He is keenly aware… of how connected our university is to our community, our city, and our region,” said Goss.

“We could not have found a more perfect candidate.”

Minister Don Scott, who said he has spent most of his life in post-secondary education, said he felt a great sense of optimism on campus Friday.

“We have a premier who believes in post secondary education,” he said during his address welcoming the school’s new leader.

Turpin, the school’s 13th president, will take over from Indira Samarasekera, who served two terms as university president.

When asked what grade she would give herself, the outgoing president declined to respond.

“I learned in school that your grade comes from others… whenever you tried to give yourself a grade it’s never been the right answer,” she said. “University presidents’ legacies are judged decades from now… 10, 20 years from now people will figure out what my impact was.”

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Samarasekera announced in March that she would not be seeking a third term.

While in her role as U of A president, Samarasekera was forced to cut expenses dramatically in 2013 after the university learned it would be getting far less funding from the province than anticipated.

READ MORE: University of Alberta president outlines historic budget cuts 

Turpin acknowledged securing resources is a big challenge for any post-secondary institution.

“Public post-secondary education is for the long-term,” he said. “It’s an investment, and without it, we can’t accomplish any of our goals.”

“We were really glad to hear his speech just now,” said William Lau, president of U of A Students’ Union, “about how he wants to bring together the campus community… how his first steps are to listen and to learn about the culture that we have.”

The compensation for U of A president-elect will likely be in the top five of all Canadian university presidents. The base salary for the position is $400,000 and there are a number of other benefits.

“Compensation is extremely complicated,” said Lau.

“When anybody… sees a number attached to an individual, it’s scary. It makes us think ‘what type of person deserves such a large piece of compensation. But what I do recognize that is, for a president of a university, it’s an extremely complex role… In my mind, it’s essentially committing their life full-time, full-time. And there’s a price tag for that.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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