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Queen’s law dean to take over as University of Alberta president

Thursday, March 26, 2020 @ 9:40 AM | By John Chunn

The University of Alberta announced that Bill Flanagan has been named its 14th president and vice-chancellor, effective July 1, 2020. 

According to its press release, Flanagan, an Alberta native, joins the University of Alberta from Queen’s University, where he served as the dean of law for 14 years from 2005 to 2019. He holds a BA (English and philosophy) from Carleton University, a juris doctor from the University of Toronto, a diplôme d'études approfondies (DEA) in international economic law from Université Paris I-Sorbonne and an LLM from Columbia University. His scholarly work spans property law, corporate law and international trade law. 

The university’s release adds that Flanagan has a proven ability to identify opportunities for growth to the benefit of the research and teaching mission of the whole university. In a period of constraint and declining public funding, under his leadership faculty numbers and programming expanded and fundraising success increased fivefold.

As dean, he opened up legal studies to undergraduates and spearheaded postgraduate programs for practising lawyers. At the institutional level, he was closely involved in the implementation of a new budget model at Queen’s, the development of its University Strategic Framework (2014-2019), and a comprehensive overhaul of the university’s Student Code of Conduct.

Deepening the diversity of both the student body and legal profession has been a constant goal of Flanagan’s. In 2019-20, the school reached record enrolment of self-identified Indigenous students, as a result of the school’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the school’s demonstrated commitment to the incorporation of Indigenous legal knowledge.

Flanagan has developed extensive national networks of business and community leaders, legal professionals and academic colleagues, as well as alumni and donors. He was president of the Council of Canadian Law Deans from 2011 to 2014, and served on the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters. 

He currently serves as chair of the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research’s National Working Group and has served as board chair of the AIDS Committee of Toronto — Canada’s largest community-based HIV service organization — as well as on the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and Canada AIDS Russia Project. In recognition of his community service, he was named to the Honour Roll of the Ontario AIDS Network in 2011.