Patrick Deane, the vice-principal academic at Queen's University is expected to be named as the new president of McMaster University on Thursday.
Mr. Deane, a native of South Africa who keeps sheep on his property outside Kingston, will replace long-time leader Peter George at the Hamilton university.
Mr. Deane took his current post at Queen's in 2005, after acting as president at the University of Winnipeg for more than a year. He came to Canada in 1978 and has a PhD in English literature from the University of Western Ontario. He taught at Western and also at the University of Toronto.
Mr. Deane has been known at Queen's for his candid manner and took a major role in the university's efforts to end the annual street party tradition associated with Homecoming.
Queen's recently appointed a new principal to take the place of Karen Hitchcock who left abruptly after her leadership was called into question. Many in the university community expected that Mr. Deane would be looking for a university leadership position, although his name was not among the list of candidates rumoured for the McMaster position.
A spokeswomen for McMaster would not confirm Mr. Deane's appointment, saying that the process is not yet complete. The university's board of governors meets Thursday morning to approve the appointment and an announcement is expected to follow.
The choice of Mr. Deane was announced at a closed-door session of the university's senate on Wednesday afternoon, say those familiar with the process.
The appointment marks the end of a nine-month search and will mean a major change for the university, which for the past 15 years has been led by Mr. George, who has a 45-year association with McMaster. Mr. George will complete his third term as president at the end of June.
Under his leadership, McMaster has undergone a major expansion both in student numbers and in its research facilities. Mr. George also has faced critics, especially over his compensation and a special deal that will see him receive a $1.4-million payout when he retires next year. The payment, which will be given in annual instalments of $99,999 - a dollar shy of the salary disclosure threshold for public employees in Ontario - is designed to compensate Mr. George for leaves he did not take while he was president, the university's board has said.
The appointment at McMaster is the latest in a series of changes in leadership at universities across the country and also follows a pattern taken by several in recent years of selecting an outside candidate for the job. As well as Queen's, Western, Carleton University and the University of Ottawa have all recently chosen outside candidates.
With files from Joey Colemen and Anna Mehler Paperny