Professor Edward (Ted) Sargent named Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives

To:  The University of Toronto community
From:  President Meric Gertler
Date:  June 25, 2020
Re:  Vice-Presidential Appointments

I am pleased to announce that the Governing Council has approved the appointment of Professor Edward (Ted) Sargent as Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, effective July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2024.

On June 16, 2020 I announced that Professor Vivek Goel would be stepping down as Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives effective July 1, 2020, and that he would be taking on a new role as Special Advisor to the President and Provost. As part of that announcement I advised that I was 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. I indicated that the somewhat unusual current circumstances suggested 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 have since undertaken that consultation process, having spoken with many leaders across the university and externally over the past few weeks.
A consensus emerged in the feedback received that the university’s interests would be best served by an expeditious appointment of a Vice-President in this portfolio as soon as possible, owing to the many important decisions pending with respect to research and innovation in light of the pandemic. Given the urgent external pressures and abbreviated timelines, an experienced senior leader would serve the university’s needs especially well at this time. The individual whose name surfaced most consistently in my consultations was Professor Ted Sargent.

In light of this feedback, I brought forward a recommendation to the Governing Council that Professor Sargent be appointed Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives. Ted has been serving since 2016 as the inaugural Vice-President, International. In that role, Ted has led the development and adoption of the University’s International Strategic Plan, following extensive consultation and input from across our three campuses. Guided by this plan, the university has made major strides to deepen its global engagement, strengthening its partnerships with universities and private sector research-performing companies, dramatically increasing the number of students undertaking international experiences, elevating our media presence in key international markets, and engaging with our globally distributed alumni. Ted worked closely with other senior team members in pursuit of these objectives, including the Vice-President and Provost, Vice-President, Advancement, and Vice-President, Communications. He led the establishment of the President’s International Councils to enlist the deep expertise of U of T faculty experts in those countries and world regions identified as areas of focus for the Strategic Plan.

Ted was also one of the architects of the Institutional Strategic Initiatives concept, working closely with Vice-President Goel and other senior team members. Moreover, he brings to his new role an outstanding profile and reputation as an award-winning researcher, an enviable track record as an innovator and serial entrepreneur, and as a former divisional Vice-Dean, Research, as well as extensive experience in government advocacy to advance the university’s international goals.

Professor Sargent received a BScEng (Engineering Physics) from Queen's University and a PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering (Photonics) from the University of Toronto. He joined the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto in 1998, was promoted to Associate Professor in 2002 and to Full Professor in 2005. He served as Associate Chair, Research, for Electrical and Computer Engineering, from 2009 to 2012. He then served as Vice-Dean, Research for the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering until 2016. He holds the Canada Research Chair in Nanotechnology. In 2015 he was appointed as University Professor, the University of Toronto’s most distinguished rank. Among his many honours, he received this year’s Killam Prize for Engineering.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the AAAS, the IEEE, and the Canadian Academy of Engineering. The impact of his work has been felt in industry through his formation of a number of start-up companies. He is founder and CTO of InVisage Technologies and co-founder of QD Solar and Xagenic.

Professor Sargent’s research interests cover many areas of nanotechnology and its application to communications and computing, medicine, and tapping new energy sources. His research has been cited more than 49,000 times (Scopus) and has been disseminated in Nature, Science, and other leading journals. Through his work as a scholar, Vice-Dean, Research and Vice-President, International, Professor Sargent has accumulated extensive experience in developing and enhancing global research networks involving both academic and industrial partners.

The appointment of Ted Sargent as Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, leaves a vacancy in the Vice-President, International role. In the course of my extensive consultations concerning the Vice-President, Research and Innovation, and Strategic Initiatives, many of those I consulted expressed their high regard for Professor Joseph (Joe) Wong’s work in his current role as Associate Vice-President & Vice-Provost, International Student Experience. His success in promoting the wider uptake of international experiences amongst our students, as well as the incorporation of internationalization more broadly within our undergraduate programs, were singled out as particularly noteworthy achievements.

I am therefore pleased to advise that the Governing Council has approved the appointment of Professor Joe Wong as Interim Vice-President, International for a one-year term, effective July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, or until a continuing appointment is made, whichever comes first.

Joe is Professor of Political Science and the Ralph & Roz Halbert Professor of Innovation at the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy. A previous Director of the Munk School’s Asian Institute and former Canada Research Chair, he is a prolific scholar of comparative politics in Asia. A graduate of McGill and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his current research focuses on poverty and innovation in the Global South. He is the founder and principal investigator of the Reach Project and Reach Global Alliance, a multidisciplinary research initiative supported by key stakeholders in the private sector, the public sector and NGOs around the world. He has worked extensively with the World Bank and UN, and has advised governments in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.

A search will be undertaken for the next Vice-President, International and, to that end, I will be striking an Advisory Search Committee early in the new academic year.

I look forward to working with Professors Sargent and Wong in their new roles.