David Turpin named as new University of Alberta president-elect

​​Former University of Victoria president David Turpin is now the president-elect of of the University of Alberta.

Former University of Victoria president says university in a `rare and enviable` position.

Dr. David Tupin says he plans to forge a close connection with the students and staff of the university while deciding on the school's directon (Scott Lilwall/CBC)

​​The University of Alberta's new president-elect has set an ambitious goal for the institution, using his introduction speech Thursday to pledge to turn the university into a global competitor. 

"If we accomplish our goals, this will be Canada's finest university," said David Turpin.

Turpin, who previously served as the president of the University of Victoria, said the institution was in a "rare and enviable" position, based on the strength of its facility and faculties. 

In his speech, Turpin emphasized the role universities play within the larger community.

“Communities rise or fall on each person’s willingness to invest in other people—to give them the means to become the best they can be so that they too can give back in kind,” Turpin said.

“That to me exemplifies the virtuous circle of the public university—which depends on steadfast community investment to give others the chance to develop their talents and then use them to the benefit of society.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson called Turpin's words "music to my ears.“

Current president served two terms

Indira Samarasekera, who is stepping down as University of Alberta president when her term ends on June 30, 2015, called Turpin "a marvelous choice," saying the university is very fortunate to have him.

Samarasekera, a metallurgical engineer, was appointed president in 2005. She signed on for a second term in 2009.

Canadian academics received plenty of attention for their campaign against high salaries paid to administrators like Samarasekera when dozens of professors applied for her job in groups of four, proposing to split the more than $400,000 salary.

Turpin said he hadn't yet signed his contract and couldn't speak about his future salary. But university officials said the president-elect's compensation would likely be among the top five post-secondary leaders in Canada, saying it was needed "to attract top talent."

When asked about concerns about tuition costs in the province, Turpin said it was too soon for him to be specific on how he will address the issue. 

"It is important as a public institution that we remain accessible," he said.