Athabasca University welcomes our Eighth President
The Board of Governors of Athabasca University introduced Dr. Neil Fassina as its eighth President on Wednesday August 17, 2016. An outstanding leader, academic and researcher in the field of human resources, Dr. Fassina will lead Athabasca University as it develops and implements sustainable solutions to its financial challenges and modernizes its work to serve students in an increasingly digital world. Dr. Fassina will take office on October 11, 2016 for a five-year term.
The Board of Governors made the announcement from the Governing Council Chambers on the University’s home campus in Athabasca before a gathering of faculty, staff, students, joined by Alberta’s Minister of Advanced Education Marlin Schmidt and local dignitaries. “We could not have found a better candidate to lead this great institution at this time,” stated Margaret Mrazek, Interim Chair, Board of Governors. “The Board of Governors is unanimous in its endorsement of his presidency.”
Dr. Fassina’s focus on the student, and commitment to consultation and transparency while implementing institutional transformation as an executive member stood out in a very competitive field of international applicants.
His listening skills and values – honesty, integrity and transparency, respect and trust – set him apart.” added Mrazek. “Neil has tremendous depth and insight in bringing together people and leading change.”
“This is a tremendous institution with a history of seeing beyond the immediate and reaching for the future,” said Dr. Fassina. “I am going to hit the ground listening and will be working with people from throughout the organization and government to address the pressures and challenges facing us.”
“I have great confidence, however, that the tools and ability to create stability and sustainability at Athabasca are within our institution’s DNA,” he added. Dr. Fassina was a tenured associate professor with the I. H. Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba following a position as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Calgary. He holds a PhD in Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management from the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto where he also instructed. He is a certified human resources professional (CHRP) and a designated director through the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD.D).
At the announcement, Fassina made it clear that he intends to consult broadly and deeply within the Athabasca University and its stakeholders. “My commitment to everyone involved in Athabasca University and our community is this: Together, we will build on our strengths as a proud comprehensive academic research institution. I am confident that Athabasca University can emerge even stronger as a student-focused open university and global leader in online and distance education, research and technology.”
Dr. Fassina joins the University with a record of outstanding academic administration at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, where he has served as Provost and Vice President Academic since 2013. Prior to this, he was Dean of the JR Shaw School of Business and School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts and Department Head, Department of Business Administration at the I. H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba.
He currently leads a research team awarded an Insight Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to study social exchange relationships in organizations and is a former recipient of the CMA award for excellence in research and teaching.
He grew up in the province and completed his BSc in Psychology at the University of Calgary. Dr. Fassina understands Alberta’s post-secondary landscape and the opportunities for Athabasca University within Campus Alberta as the province’s open university and a global leader in online and distance education.