StudentDwell+ Speaker Bios
Professor Meric S. Gertler
President, University of Toronto
President, University of Toronto
Professor Meric S. Gertler is one of the world’s foremost urban theorists and policy practitioners. He is widely known as an expert on innovation, creativity and culture as drivers of the economic dynamism of city-regions.
On November 1, 2013, Professor Gertler began his term as the 16th President of the University of Toronto. Previously, he served as the Dean of the University’s largest and most diverse academic division, the Faculty of Arts & Science, a position he had held since 2008. As Dean, his priority was to provide students with a top quality academic experience in which they benefit directly from U of T’s strength and diversity in research and teaching.
At the outset of his presidency, Professor Gertler articulated Three Priorities for the University of Toronto:
- Leverage our urban location(s) more fully, for the mutual benefit of University and City
- Strengthen and deepen key international partnerships by means of a well-defined strategic focus
- Re-imagine and reinvent undergraduate education
He has since consulted extensively with the U of T community and has laid out specific strategies, goals and milestones in Three Priorities: A Discussion Paper.
Professor Gertler is internationally renowned as a distinguished scholar. His research focuses on the geography of innovative activity and the economies of city-regions. He has served as an advisor to local, regional and national governments in Canada, the United States and Europe, as well as to international agencies such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (Paris) and the European Union. He was the founding co-director of the Program on Globalization and Regional Innovation Systems (PROGRIS) at the Munk School of Global Affairs, served as director of the Department of Geography’s Program in Planning, and holds the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies.
His research has attracted $8.4 million in external funding and he has published nine books including Manufacturing Culture: the Institutional Geography of Industrial Practice, and Growing Urban Economies: Innovation, Creativity, and Governance in Canadian City-Regions, the latter co-edited with Professor David Wolfe. He is also co-editor of the widely used Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography, winner of Choice Magazine’s “Outstanding Academic Book” award, and the forthcoming New Oxford Handbook of Economic Geography. His more than 90 journal articles and book chapters have had significant impact in his field and have led him to be one of Canada’s most highly cited geographers. He has held visiting appointments at Oxford University, University College London, UCLA, and the University of Oslo.
Professor Gertler was a member of the Expert Panel on Business Innovation established by the Council of Canadian Academies, which published its landmark report “Innovation and Business Strategy: Why Canada Falls Short” to wide acclaim in 2009. Currently, he serves as chair of the Working Group on Higher Education-Business Research Partnerships of the Business-Higher Education Roundtable. He is also the campaign cabinet chair for the education sector, United Way, Toronto & York Region; a trustee for the Hospital for Sick Children; and a member of the board of directors of MaRS Discovery District; Waterfront Toronto; and Mitacs, a national non-profit research and training organization.
A graduate of McMaster University (BA), the University of California, Berkeley (MCP) and Harvard University (PhD), Professor Gertler was awarded an honorary doctorate from Lund University, Sweden, in 2012, and from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, in 2017. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Academy of Social Sciences (UK) and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He received the Award for Scholarly Distinction in Geography from the Canadian Association of Geographers in 2007, and in 2014, both the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of California, Berkeley and the Distinguished Scholarship Honor from the Association of American Geographers (AAG). In December 2015, Professor Gertler was appointed to the Order of Canada.