New Emily Carr University president says she's aligned with school's 'creative energy'

After a year of searching, Emily Carr University has chosen the next president and vice-chancellor for the art and design institution in Vancouver.

Gillian Siddall will replaced long time president Ron Burnett on Sept. 1

Gillian Siddall previously worked at the Ontario College of Art and Design University and says she looks forward to continuing connections with her colleagues there as she takes the new position at Emily Carr. (Martin Iskander/Ontario College of Art and Design University)

After a year of searching, Emily Carr University has chosen the next president and vice-chancellor for the art and design institution in Vancouver.

Gillian Siddall, who was last working as the vice-president academic and provost at the Ontario College of Art and Design University, will take the position in the fall.

On Sept. 1, she will replace Ron Burnett, who has been president of the institution since 1996.

"He's seen some real transformation there in terms of it becoming a university, developing graduate programs there, enhancing the research profile of the university," Siddall said.

"I'm just delighted to be able to step in and move us through to the next part of the journey."

Emily Carr has a new $122.6-million campus building designed by Diamond Schmitt on Great Northern Way. (Emily Carr University)

Aligning visions

Siddall said she's excited about the new position because of how well the school's priorities align with her own personal values.

Decolonization, social justice and innovation are all key issues she plans to focus on, she told Gloria Macarenko, the host of CBC's On The Coast.

"It's also through developing curriculum and working with Indigenous communities as well and getting their input on how we move through that challenging process of decolonization," said Siddall.

For Siddal, who holds an honours BA and MA in English from the University of Guelph and a PhD in English from the University of Western Ontario, a musical background is an equally important element that she brings to her new job. 

She's published extensively on the subject of musical improvisation and is a jazz singer.

"I think just having that creative background myself is a great way for me to be able to just be part of that creative energy of the institution," she said.   

After a year of searching, Emily Carr University has chosen the next president and vice-chancellor for the art and design institution in Vancouver. 7:02

With files from On The Coast.

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