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New U of G president lands with top credentials

Prof. Franco Vaccarino, who takes over Aug. 15 as the University of Guelph’s eighth president, is a highly regarded scholar and administrator who has spent most of his career at the University of Toronto.
He is currently principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough and vice-president at the University of Toronto, a position he has held since 2007.
“Prof. Vaccarino has had a remarkable term as UTSC’s principal, with accomplishments that will benefit the University of Toronto and the U of T Scarborough campus for decades to come. He has built a strong foundation for the future,” U of T president Meric Gertler said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Vaccarino, who earned his Bachelor of Science degree from U of T and his master’s degree and PhD in psychology from Montreal’s McGill University, first came to U of T in 1984 as an assistant professor at University of Toronto Scarborough.
A widely published and internationally recognized researcher, he has received major awards from leading research and scientific organizations, including the former Medical Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
His prominence in his field was recognized by the World Health Organization in his role as the principal editor of its “Neuroscience of Psychoactive Substance Use and Dependence” report. His studies of the neurobiology of stress and motivation are considered a model for bridging the neural and behavioural sciences, said a University of Guelph news release.
Among other positions at U of T, he served as chair of the Department of Psychology, as graduate chair of the tri-campus Graduate Department of Psychology and as head of the Department of Psychiatry’s neuroscience program.
He also served as executive vice-president (programs) and vice-president (research) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and as vice-president and director of research at Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, both in Toronto.
Vaccarino helped University of Toronto Scarborough to grow in size and stature, “drawing faculty and students to emerging areas of study and innovative experiential learning opportunities,” the U of G release said. He also led a strategic planning process that provided a strong framework for campus plans and has helped position UTSC as a key intellectual and cultural hub in the eastern Greater Toronto Area, it said.
Vaccarino oversaw UTSC’s expansion onto the campus’s north zone, including the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre set to open this fall, doubling UTSC’s footprint and setting the stage for continuing expansion.
He plans to move to Guelph in August with his wife, Cosmina, and their two daughters.

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