David Atkinson

Kwantlen president bows out

After 3 years, David Atkinson leaves B.C. for Alberta university.

After three years of work transforming Kwantlen Polytechnic University from a university college into a university, president and vice-chancellor David Atkinson will be leaving to join Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton as their president.

Atkinson came to Kwantlen from Ottawa’s Carleton University and prior to that, was president and vice-chancellor of Brock University in St. Catherines, Ont.

“Being at Kwantlen has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my professional career,” says Atkinson “We have made tremendous strides, in large measure due to the commitment, energy and passion of the faculty, staff and students at this university.”

Kwantlen – which has two campuses in Surrey, and one each in Langley and Richmond – worked for several years to drop the word “college” from its name in an effort to not only ease confusion, but to attract faculty and research grants and allow degrees to be more easily recognized by other institutions.

The dream finally came to fruition in 2008 when it was re-designated a university.

Under Atkinson’s tenure, Kwantlen’s enrolment and program offering has grown and the university is now at full capacity.

Atkinson says his departure to Grant MacEwan this summer is driven by his wish to return home to Alberta, a province where he grew up and first began his academic career.  He received the lion’s share of his post-secondary education at the University of Calgary. He also began his academic career at the University of Lethbridge in 1976, where he taught for fifteen years, first in the Department of English and then in the Department of Religious Studies.

Most of his family members still reside in the province and he says he hopes the move will allow him to spend more time with them.

“It’s not going to be easy to leave such a great university, but at a certain point in life you yearn to go home to be where your family is,” he says. “I’m looking forward to taking on new challenges at Grant MacEwan University.”

He will assume his new role as president of Grant MacEwan University July 1.

Dr. John McKendry, who has been leading the Langley campus revitalization, will serve as interim president.

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