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Alan Shepard appointed to second term as president of Western University | CBC News

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Alan Shepard has unanimously been appointed to a second term in his role as president of Western University, the school announced on Monday.

Shepard, who has been Western’s 11th president and vice-chancellor since 2019, will remain in the top job until June 30, 2029.

Shepard says he’s excited to continue leading the university.

“I am inspired every day by the tremendous talent and dedication of our faculty, staff, alumni and, most especially, our students. I’m looking forward to what we can accomplish together over the next seven years,” he said in a news release.

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The reappointment comes after several months of extensive consultation done by a presidential review committee of the university’s board of governors. The committee — made up of students, faculty, staff and alumni — received “overwhelmingly supportive comments” about Shepard from the Western community and its stakeholders, it said. 

Reappointing Shepard puts Western in an exceptionally good position for the future, said board chair Keith Gibbons.

“Alan’s leadership style reflects the best of the Western community. He is well known for connecting on a personal level with students, faculty, staff and alumni through open and engaging communication,” he said.

“His deep knowledge about and belief in higher education, his vision, his energy, and his passion to achieve excellence will continue to be invaluable assets for the university.”

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Creation of new committees

A variety of committees were formed under Shepard’s leadership with the goal of Western working toward equity and inclusion (Colin Butler/CBC)

Shepard had a busy first term with the creation of a committee to prevent gender-based and sexual violence (GBSV), which included making changes to Western’s orientation week, a special advisor to address campus culture and safety, and mandatory GBSV prevention and awareness training for all incoming students.

The changes followed orientation week in 2021, in which first-year student Gabriel Neil was assaulted and killed near campus, and multiple allegations of sexual assault were reported. 

Western also created new equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) roles and Indigenous initiatives, allowing for more investments to support the recruitment of Black and Indigenous faculty, and funding for more than 75 new scholarships for students. 

Shepard acknowledged the unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic brought about, adding that he’s proud of the steps Western took in its overall pandemic response. 

“It was so impressive to see our campus community pull together right from day one, not only to support the university’s mission, but most importantly, to support each other,” he said.

“The pandemic brought with it unprecedented challenges, and Western responded, and continues to respond, in a truly unprecedented way.”

Shepard is an American-born professor originally from Iowa with a background in comparative literature. He came to Western after heading Concordia University in Montreal. 

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