David H. Turpin, CM, PhD, LLD, FRSC, is the 13th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta.
Since becoming president in July 2015, Dr. Turpin has established a new strategic plan for the University of Alberta. Called For the Public Good, the ambitious new plan is both outward- and forward-looking. It empowers each member of the university to build, experience, excel, engage, and sustain initiatives that will ensure the university’s continued leadership amongst the world’s finest public institutions. During Dr. Turpin’s tenure, the University of Alberta has secured several major grants and donations, including a $75 million Canada First Research Excellence Fund grant, $82.5 million in provincial and federal infrastructure funding, and a $54.5 million gift to the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute – the largest in U of A history.
One of Canada’s most admired and respected post-secondary leaders, Dr. Turpin has held several leadership roles, including president of the University of Victoria from 2000–2013. A distinguished scholar and Thomson ISI highly cited researcher in plant biochemistry and physiology, Dr. Turpin has earned many honours and distinctions for his research, teaching, and service. He is a member of the Order of Canada and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Currently, he is chair of the World University Service of Canada, Vice-Chair of the U15 Executive Heads, and serves as a member of both the Universities Canada Board of Directors and Research Advisory Committee.
Selected Awards and Distinctions
- Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Manitoba (2015)
- Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012)
- Member, Order of Canada (2010)
- ISI Highly Cited Researcher (2004)
- Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal (2002)
- Fellow, Royal Society of Canada (1998)
- Distinguished Visiting Scholar, University of Adelaide (1996)
- Darbaker Prize in Phycology, American Botanical Association (1991)
- Award of Merit, UBC Alumni Association (1990)
- C.D. Nelson Award, Canadian Society of Plant Physiologists (1989)
- NSERC E.W.R. Steacie Memorial Fellowship (1989–1990)
- Queen’s Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching (1989)
View his CV
Prior to joining the University of Alberta on July 1, 2015, Dr. Turpin was a professor of biology and president emeritus at the University of Victoria, where he served as president from 2000–2013. Under his leadership, the University of Victoria put into action an ambitious vision and strategic plan to become a destination of choice for students, faculty, and staff from British Columbia, Canada, and the world by inspiring a culture of excellence in teaching and research.
During his presidency, the University of Victoria was ranked third among Canadian universities for scientific performance by the CWTS Leiden Size-Independent Ranking system. It was also during this time that the Times Higher Education ranked UVic as Canada’s top university under the age of 50. As the university's national standing increased, so too did student enrolment, and by 2013, UVic attracted the highest percentage of out-of-province students of any university west of Montreal. Nine new residences were built to accommodate this growth and to guarantee every first-year student a place. Student financial assistance more than doubled.
Dr. Turpin's focus on attracting and supporting indigenous students led to the introduction of LE,NONET, a set of programs designed to meet their specific cultural and academic needs, and the construction of the First People House on campus. As a result of these key strategies, indigenous student enrolment increased tenfold to 900 students by the end of Dr. Turpin’s presidency.
In the same period, UVic also increased its research capacity, quadrupling the amount of annual sponsored research funding. UVic led the establishment of a number of major national and international research projects and partnerships under Dr. Turpin’s leadership, including Oceans Networks Canada, which operates the NEPTUNE and VENUS ocean observatories; the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, founded on the largest single contribution to a university endowment in Canadian history ($90 million); and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. UVic also led the development of the Canadian ATLAS detector project at CERN, the ARIEL beam line at TRIUMF, and the development of the Vancouver Island Technology Park, the largest university-owned tech park in British Columbia.
Prior to becoming president of UVic, Dr. Turpin served as vice-president (academic) from 1995–2000 at Queen’s University, where he began his academic career in 1981. During this time he assumed major administrative roles of increasing seniority, including head of the Department of Botany at UBC (1991–1993) and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s (1993–1995) before becoming Queen’s VP (academic) in 1995.
David Turpin is the father of two grown children and is married to Suromitra Sanatani, who has served in executive positions and has been a board member for numerous organizations. A lawyer by training, she worked in litigation before transferring her skills into the corporate and non-profit sectors.