Taking over the reins of one of Canada’s largest research-intensive universities requires a plan and the newly minted University of Western Ontario President Amit Chakma has many.
Coming from the University of Waterloo as Vice-President, Academic & Provost, Chakma is diving into his new role with eyes wide open.
He faces challenging economic times, including forging ahead with an aggressive $500-million fundraising campaign already underway, and vows to increase the university’s international profile.
“My first order of business will be to intensify my learning process which has started during the transition period,” he says. “I’ll continue to meet with colleagues internal to Western, as well as alumni and friends, and learn about their ideas and aspirations for Western.”
Although his plans for the university are ambitious, he promises to back them with the necessary financial resources and will implement an income diversification strategy to help secure these funds.
His top priority is to develop a long-term strategy with colleagues, to enhance Western’s standing as a globally recognized academic institution.
Chakma will be serving a five-year term as Western’s president.
He is a graduate of the Algerian Petroleum Institute (Dip. Ing., 1982) and the University of British Columbia (Master of Applied Science, 1984 and PhD, chemical engineering, 1987). His research focus is on natural gas engineering and petroleum waste management and is widely known for his work on gas treating solvents and membrane separation.
He was also named among Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 1998.
Chakma, 50, and his wife Meena have two sons, one in high school and the other in university. He will move his family to London in August.
“We are thrilled to be part of the Western family and we are looking forward to meeting many new friends in London,” he says.
Although much of the summer will be spent becoming accustomed to his new post, Chakma also hopes to take in some local sights to become acquainted with his new home.
“While we will be seeking out opportunities to get to know our new home community of London, we do not have any specific plans,” he says. “I am personally looking forward to the Homecoming event in early October.”