Professor Vivek Goel named Special Advisor to the President and Provost

Office of the President

To:  The University of Toronto community
From:  President Meric Gertler
Date:  June 16, 2020
Re:  Professor Vivek Goel

I am writing to let you know that Professor Vivek Goel will be taking on a new role at the University of Toronto as Special Advisor to the President and Provost, and will be stepping down as Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, effective 1 July 2020. He will continue to serve as Professor in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, as well as co-chair of the university’s COVID-19 Incident Leadership Team and recovery and restart committee with the Vice-President and Provost.

As the country transitions from pandemic crisis response to recovery and reopening, it is critically important that the decisions being made by our public authorities be informed by the best available expertise and evidence. Over the past few months, Professor Goel’s advice and perspective have been increasingly sought out by government agencies, private sector organizations and the media. As a public health physician, founding President and CEO of Public Health Ontario and faculty member in our Institute of Health Policy, Management & Evaluation at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Vivek is uniquely well-qualified to contribute to public health policy and practice at this critically important juncture. In relinquishing his role as Vice-President, he will have more time and latitude to apply his remarkable expertise and experience to these important discussions, locally, provincially and nationally, with considerable net benefit to the University of Toronto.

Vivek has served with great distinction since his appointment as Vice-President, Research and Innovation in 2015. In 2019, he was reappointed with an expanded mandate to lead the university’s process of identifying, funding and supporting the growth of institution-wide, interdisciplinary strategic initiatives. Since 2015, he has overseen many significant advances, including the largest research grant in U of T’s history to support Medicine by Design, and the creation of the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. He played a major role in the conception and launch of the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre and Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology & Society, as well as the School of Cities. Externally, he facilitated the creation of the Vector Institute and Compute Ontario. He has championed the innovation and entrepreneurship agenda at the university, coordinating our activities under the aegis of U of T Entrepreneurship. As a result, U of T has emerged as one of the world’s leading centres for the generation of research-based start-up companies. He has served as a tireless champion for our research enterprise and played a significant role in our advocacy that led to the historic investments by the Government of Canada in its 2018 budget.

Vivek has been a passionate advocate for advancing equity, diversity and inclusion in the research and innovation enterprise. He established a special working group that led to the creation of a standing committee committed to this cause, and initiated an historic special call for Canada Research Chairs from designated groups. He also spearheaded the creation of the new Centre for Research Innovation and Support, which will support the research community by fostering continued research excellence.

Professor Goel’s appointment as Special Advisor will run to 30 June 2022. In this role, Vivek will continue to serve as the university’s senior public health advisor on our institutional response to COVID-19, helping guide the university’s planning efforts as we move to recovery and reopening our campuses. He will also continue to contribute to a number of specific institutional strategic initiatives where he has particular expertise and interest.

On behalf of the entire University of Toronto, let me thank Vivek for his extraordinary service as Vice-President, and express my sincere appreciation for his willingness to fulfill this important advisory role.

I am currently seeking advice from colleagues across the university on how best to identify Professor Goel’s successor as Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives. The somewhat unusual current circumstances may suggest the need to expedite the search process, to ensure that the university’s interests in research and innovation are well served, with minimal loss of momentum or opportunity. I will update our community with further information as soon as possible.