Locals applaud change in AU leadership

ATHABASCA – The installment of Alex Clark as Athabasca University’s newly minted president is welcome news to the Town and County of Athabasca.

“We believe this is great news for Athabasca University and the economic, social, and cultural wellbeing of our community,” read a joint statement from Mayor Rob Balay and County Reeve Brian Hall. “Together with members of the Town of Athabasca and Athabasca County councils, we will do whatever we can to help the university in its renewal and transition as it truly re-opens the campus presence and expands its physical presence in Athabasca.”

Clark, who was appointed by Athabasca University’s Board of Governors Wednesday, replaces Peter Scott as AU’s president following Scott’s turbulent leadership of the past year. Scott contended that forcing more of the school’s executives and administrators to live in Athabasca, which was a directive from the province, was a detriment to the school’s ability to attract talented staff. The UCP government argued AU should be an economic driver for the region – a sentiment shared by the community’s political leaders.

“Having strong post-secondary institutions like Athabasca University in northeastern Alberta is vital for the continued growth of our region. We appreciate the board’s commitment to putting the right leadership in place to build on the success of this world-class institution,” said Hall.

Balay said he is also looking forward to the future. “I recently had an encouraging conversation with (board) Chair (Byron) Nelson and look forward to meeting Dr. Clark and to rebuilding relationships between the university and community.”

Clark is AU’s 11th president, after serving as the dean of AU’s health disciplines. Scott is reportedly terminated without cause, and will be entitled to severance. His base salary was $305,000 per year.

Look to Town & Country Today for continued updates, including an interview with board Chair Nelson.

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