University of Alberta president will not seek reappointment in 2020

The president of the University of Alberta, David Turpin, says he will not seek reappointment when his first term ends in June 2020.

David Turpin, appointed in 2015, says announcement gives board time to find successor

University of Alberta president David Turpin, right, and board chair Michael Phair held a news conference Friday to announcement that Turpin will not seek reappointment when his term ends in June 2020. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

The president of the University of Alberta says he will not seek reappointment when his first term ends in June 2020.

During a news conference on Friday, David Turpin said the announcement will give the university's board of governors time to find a successor. He said the search will take roughly a year.

"This has been the highlight of my leadership career," Turpin said. "This is remarkable institution of global significance."

He praised the university's leadership and thanked them for their "unwavering support and encouragement."

Turpin started his five-year term as president in July 2015. The long-time university administrator joined the U of A after a 13 years as president of the University of Victoria and five years as a vice-president at Queen's University.

Turpin said he weighed "multiple personal and professional factors" for several months with his wife, Suromitra Santanani, before making a decision.

"Although it is much too soon to know what the future will hold, when my term ends, Suromitra and I want to be able to explore and take on other opportunities that will allow us to continue to make lasting contributions to the community and to the nation."

He said he will continue working with student leaders to boost post-secondary participation rates in Alberta, "revamp" the province's student loan program and increase research funding.

"My goal is to do everything I can to ensure that every qualified student leaving high school in this province has access to a seat in post-secondary education," he said.

Michael Phair, chair of the board of governors, said he expects Turpin's successor will be named by April or May 2020.

Turpin earned more than $800,000 in total compensation in 2017. He faced criticism last year from Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt, who said at the time Turpin should have taken a pay cut before charging international students higher tuition and raising costs for students who live in residence.

The provincial government introduced new salary limits last April for post-secondary presidents, which capped the U of A president's annual salary at $447,000 and also eliminated signing bonuses and executive allowances.

Phair said he didn't expect the measures would have any bearing on the university's ability to attract a suitable replacement.

"We are considered one of the best and one of the largest universities in the country," he said. "We will attract individuals that want to work at that level."