The University of Calgary has chosen former Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk as the school’s 13th chancellor.

The university’s senate unanimously elected Thirsk to the position on Friday for a four-year term.


Former Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk has been chosen as the next chancellor of the University of Calgary. (University of Calgary)

Thirsk, 60, graduated from the U of C with an engineering degree in 1976 before going on to MIT for a master’s degree.

He completed a doctorate in medicine at McGill University in 1982 and joined the Canadian Astronaut Program the following year.

“During a long career with the Canadian Space Agency, Thirsk spent more time in orbit than any other Canadian. His passion for space, research and education has engaged many Canadian young people in science,” the university said in a release.

Thirsk was given an honorary degree from the University of Calgary in 2009 during a live satellite uplink with the International Space Station, where he stayed for six months.  

A Calgary school was also named after Thirsk.

As chancellor, Thirsk will represent the university at ceremonial occasions, preside over convocation ceremonies and confer degrees on behalf of the Senate.

He replaces Jim Dinning, whose term expires this year. 

Thirsk became an officer of the Order of Canada earlier this week.