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Meric Gertler leaning on a desk in his office
Meric Gertler. Photo by Lisa Sakulensky

Meet Our Next President

World-renowned urban expert Meric Gertler will succeed David Naylor and serve as U of T’s 16th president

Meric Gertler, a world-renowned expert on urban issues, will be the next president of the University of Toronto, Richard Nunn, chair of the university’s Governing Council, announced early in March.

The appointment, for a five-year term, is the result of an international search that began last summer. Professor Gertler will become the 16th president in the 186-year history of the university. He will succeed Professor David Naylor, president since 2005.

Gertler has been dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science – U of T’s largest and most diverse academic division – since 2008. He joined U of T in the department of geography in 1983 after receiving his doctorate from Harvard University. A fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Academy of Social Sciences in the United Kingdom, he is the author, co-author or co-editor of more than 80 scholarly publications and six books. His academic work focuses on the economies of cities, the urban foundations of innovation, and the role of creativity, culture and diversity in urban life.

“Dean Gertler has an outstanding track record at the university for academic excellence and strong administrative leadership,” said Nunn. “We are pleased those qualities will now be put to use in a new role as president.”

“After an extensive international search, the fact we were able to find someone of Professor Gertler’s stature right here is a testament to the depth of this great university,” added David Wilson, chair of the presidential search committee.

Gertler said he is deeply honoured to be appointed to this position. “Over the years, the University of Toronto has, time and again, proven to be a place of unparalleled learning and discovery for the best students and the best faculty,” he said in a statement. “To be chosen to lead U of T during a time of great change in our sector is both challenging and exhilarating. I am following in the footsteps of President Naylor – a leader who has combined vision, hard work and dedication to propel the university to compete with the best institutions in the world. This is a tremendous foundation upon which to build.”

At a news conference in March announcing his appointment, Gertler recognized the contributions of the university’s graduates to the life of the university and broader society. “The 500,000 alumni of the University of Toronto – alumni who are found in every corner of the world – are making contributions in all fields of human endeavour,” he said. “They are our most valuable ambassadors and the most generous supporters of the university. I’m looking forward to sustaining their connection to the university and their justifiable pride in their alma mater.”

Gertler’s appointment will ensure the university can build upon its reputation as a world leader in research, innovation and academic achievement, said Naylor.

“Professor Gertler is a gifted scholar, teacher, mentor and administrator whose advice on urban issues has been sought by governments around the world,” Naylor said. “Along with an extraordinary breadth of knowledge and experience, Meric Gertler brings to the presidency an unwavering dedication to excellence in post-secondary education and advanced research.”

Internationally renowned as a distinguished academic, Gertler’s research focuses on the geography of innovative activity and the economies of city-regions. He has been a frequent adviser to government agencies at all levels, both in Canada and abroad, as well as to multilateral organizations such as the European Union and the OECD. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford University, University College London, UCLA and the University of Oslo. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctor of philosophy from Lund University in Sweden for his exceptional contributions to the fields of economic geography and regional development.

“I have been impressed by Professor Gertler’s leadership at the Faculty of Arts and Science,” said Michael Wilson, who was installed as the 33rd chancellor of the University of Toronto in November. “As dean, he has worked to ensure the highest quality academic experience for students. I look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Since 1999, Gertler has held the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies in University College and the department of geography. He was also the founding co-director of the program on globalization and regional innovation systems at the Munk School of Global Affairs and has served as director of the geography department’s program in planning.

To read more about president-designate Meric Gertler, please visit

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