Prof. Vaccarino arrives at the university with a resume for growing universities
The University of Guelph has appointed Professor Franco Vaccarino as its eighth president and vice-chancellor. Professor Vaccarino is currently Principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), a satellite campus of the U of T with roughly 10,000 undergraduate students, and is also a Vice-President at the University of Toronto. He will assume his new job on Aug. 15 when Alastair Summerlee retires from the position he has held since 2003.
The appointment was formally announced at the University of Guelph’s 50th Anniversary kick-off celebration on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
Details about the yearlong presidential selection process itself are confidential, so it is difficult to say what the presidential selection committee liked most about Vaccarino’s application.
When the Ontarion asked Vaccarino about his vision for the future of the school, he declined to discuss detailed plans at such an early stage, but also indicated that his vision holds no immediate plans to shake things up. He intends to do a lot of listening in these first months and years.
“The vision for this institution should be a shared vision,” said Vaccarino. “Building on the U of G’s strengths and further developing and promoting its potential for continued excellence is very important to me.”
Vaccarino arrives at the U of G with a reputation for having significantly expanded the UTSC campus and faculty. At UTSC, he hired dozens of new professors and made substantial infrastructure investments, including the construction of a new science building, instructional centre, and aquatics facility to be used for the 2015 Pan American Games.
Professor Vaccarino is also proud of the strategic planning process he helped implement during his tenure, saying it “has helped position UTSC as a key intellectual and cultural hub in the eastern Greater Toronto Area.”
After completing his PhD in psychology at McGill University, Vaccarino started his career at UTSC in 1984 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. Vaccarino would go on to chair the Department of Psychology at the St. George campus, but prior to that he worked for almost a decade in various executive capacities at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in downtown Toronto. In 2007, he was appointed Principal of UTSC and Vice-Principal of the University of Toronto (a position that, similar to the University of Guelph, has a five-year term). In 2012, Vaccarino was appointed to a second five-year term.
Despite this career-long commitment to the Toronto campus, Prof. Vaccarino says he has often admired the University of Guelph from afar.
“Over the years I have followed the wonderful journey of this great university and have become a big fan of the U of G – its culture, teaching, research and strong spirit,” said Vaccarino. “So when this opportunity presented itself, it seemed like the perfect ‘fit’ for me.”
He also says he looks forward to resettling in Guelph.
“I have been to this beautiful city a number of times over the years and that is another thing that enticed us. My wife, Cosmina, and I are excited and energized about moving to Guelph in August and look forward to becoming part of this wonderful community.”
Dick Freeborough, Chair of the University of Guelph Board of Directors, said Professor Vaccarino was singled out among all the candidates who applied – from in Canada and abroad – for the “breadth and depth of his character and capacity.”
“Professor Vaccarino has had a distinguished academic career and a proven record in organizational leadership,” said Freeborough. “He is a remarkable scholar and educator as well as an accomplished administrator. He has an entrepreneurial spirit, a powerful sense of community and a profound commitment to societal engagement. He clearly has what it takes to lead the university in the years to come.”