board of directors
BA, JD, DEA, LLM
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Alberta
Bill Flanagan became the 14th president and vice-chancellor of the University of Alberta in July 2020. Born and raised in Alberta, he has been recognized for his transformative and entrepreneurial leadership.
As soon as he was appointed, President Flanagan launched the largest and most ambitious program of academic and administrative restructuring ever undertaken by a Canadian university. With a vision for the University of Alberta for Tomorrow (UAT), he set the goal of turning the university’s acute financial pressures into a strategic transformation, repositioning the U of A for long-term success.
With the creation of an entirely new and university-wide operating model, UAT dramatically enhanced the efficiency of administrative services through the establishment of shared service centres and the introduction of new technologies. By 2023, the U of A will have permanently reduced its administrative costs by $127 million annually.
With the establishment of three new colleges — the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, the College of Natural and Applied Science, and the College of Health Sciences — the university grouped 13 existing faculties into three discipline-aligned colleges, with the goal of elevating interdisciplinary teaching and research with global impacts. With a more dynamic, nimble and aligned academic structure, the university is now positioned to be an even stronger driver of economic growth, innovation and creativity in Alberta, Canada and the world.
With UAT, a significantly higher proportion of funding and resources now goes directly into classrooms and research, generating greater impact while enabling the university to more quickly and collaboratively drive international research opportunities that address the world’s greatest challenges.
The transformation and associated savings achieved under UAT since 2020 are unprecedented in Canadian post-secondary history. The University of Alberta is now more sustainable, poised for ambitious enrolment growth and prepared to lead globally with purpose. Amid these profound changes, the university has continued to advance in international rankings, recently placing fifth in Canada and 92nd in the world — its best showing ever. The University of Alberta also ranked seventh in the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Ranking, which assesses universities’ impact in relation to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Prior to his appointment at the U of A, President Flanagan served as dean of law from 2005 to 2019 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont. Through his transformative vision during his tenure, he led major initiatives elevating the delivery of education in law: the establishment of the faculty’s Ph.D. program; the founding of the Centre for Law in the Contemporary Workplace; a major expansion of the business law program; an online undergraduate Certificate in Law Program; an online Graduate Diploma in Legal Services Management, and a new online Graduate Diploma in Immigration and Citizenship Law.
In addition to his academic leadership roles, President Flanagan has an extensive record of service and engagement in the broader community. His dedicated work in support of HIV/AIDS research and initiatives has made him a well-recognized and respected public figure. He is the former chair and a current director of the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research’s National Working Group and served as board chair of the AIDS Committee of Toronto — Canada’s largest community-based HIV service organization — as well as on the Ontario HIV Treatment Network and Canada AIDS Russia Project. In recognition of his community service, he was named to the Honour Roll of the Ontario AIDS Network in 2011.
Currently, President Flanagan is a member of the Universities Canada Research Committee. From 2011 to 2014, he was president of the Council of Canadian Law Deans and served on the National Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters.
President Flanagan holds a BA (English and Philosophy) from Carleton University, a JD from the University of Toronto, a DEA in International Economic Law from Université Paris I-Sorbonne, and an LLM from Columbia University. He joined the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University in 1991, where he founded the faculty’s International Law Program at the Queen’s University Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle in the U.K. His scholarly work spans property law, corporate law and international trade law.
Bill Flanagan is married to his husband Saffron Sri, a registered dietitian who works in the healthcare sector.