Nauman Farooqi named STU president, vice-chancellor

    Nauman Farooqi will begin a five year appointment as St. Thomas University's president and vice-chancellor on July 1, 2023. (Submitted: St. Thomas University)

    St. Thomas University announced Wednesday it has selected Nauman Farooqi as its next president and vice-chancellor after almost one year of searching.

    Farooqi, who currently serves as a professor and dean of business and social science at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., will begin a five-year appointment to the role on July 1.

    Farooqi’s appointment followed an announcement that Dawn Russell, who served as STU’s president and vice-chancellor for 11 years, would retire on June 30, 2023. The university confirmed on Nov. 21, 2022, that she took an administrative leave of absence.

    Related: Dawn Russell takes leave as STU president, vice-chancellor

    Peter Forestell, chair of STU’s board of governors, said in a release Farooqi has the “leadership skills, experience and ambition” to lead the university in the next stage of its development.

    “During a diverse career in academic, public and private sectors, Dr. Farooqi has built a successful record of program development and management,” he said in the release.

    “These attributes, along with his thoughtful and creative approach to university leadership, will be key as we move forward.”

    Forestell also said Farooqi holds a “strong understanding” of the liberal arts, noting he would advocate for post-secondary education and the liberal arts overall. He added Farooqi would provide leadership for advancement activities, strategic planning, and academic and administrative programs.

    Related: Farooqi gives presentation on candidacy for STU’s presidency

    Farooqi, who describes himself as an “accidental academic,” told an on-campus presentation in December 2022 he would establish benchmarks and measure the university’s success through comparison to the competition.

    “There’s a lot that can be done in order to really showcase what is good about the university … that would lead to a greater recognition … and create a stronger brand identity,” he said at the time.

    Farooqi was one of two finalists vying for the university’s top job, competing against Ian Sutherland, who has served as the vice president of Grenfell Campus at Memorial University in St. John’s, Nfld. since 2021.

    In the written statement, Farooqi said people are at the heart of any successful enterprise.

    “Working with and leading people takes solid strategy and planning, but the best strategies can’t be successful without empowering and motivating all members of the community to help reach our goals,” he said in the release.

    “One of my key roles as president and vice-chancellor will be to help the university adopt a set of shared goals between students, faculty, staff and external stakeholders such as the Indigenous and local communities.”

    David Ferguson, who serves as vice-chair of STU’s board of governors and the chair of STU’s presidential search committee, said committee members were “very impressed” by Farooqi’s career and commitment to liberal arts.

    “He brings a skill set that complements existing leadership at the university and has demonstrated his experience in bringing people together to creatively build solutions—we are thrilled to welcome him to St. Thomas,” he said in the release.

    “We know that he is anxious to build collaborative working relations with our campus community and external partners.”

    With files from Giuliana Grillo de Lambarri.