Globe & Mail online – Arvind Gupta, innovation expert, named next president of UBC

The University of British Columbia, one of Canada’s largest universities, has found its new president on campus in computer-science professor Arvind Gupta.

The expert on science and innovation policy was named the 13th president of UBC Tuesday morning in a ceremony that was twice disrupted by chanting animal-rights protesters.

Dr. Gupta later said he relished such free expression on a campus where he has been an academic since 2009. “I’m really a big fan of students expressing their opinion,” he told a news conference, though he noted “there’s a place for that.”

Since 2000, Dr. Gupta has been CEO and scientific director of Mitacs, an organization that coordinates collaborative industry-university research projects. A 22-member search committee, including administrators, students and faculty, began seeking a successor for departing president Stephen Toope last April. 

Dr. Gupta, who earned a PhD from the University of Toronto in 1991, begins his five-year term on July. 1. Since 2012, he has been a member of the federal government’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council. 

He declined detailed comment on his approach to some of the big issues facing UBC, including security in light of a sexual predator linked to several attacks on campus since last spring and the prospect of a rapid-transit line to campus, saying he had not yet been fully briefed.

He did say the current administration had done a “marvelous” job on security.

“I don’t want to come into this job with a pre-conceived agenda,” he said, declaring he wanted to, instead, consult widely.

By Ian Bailey