Arvind Gupta has accepted a visiting professorship at the University of Toronto's computer science department, two months after his surprising resignation as president of the University of British Columbia.
He will spend about half his time at the new job in Toronto over the next year, U of T's news website stated in an article posted Thursday.
Dr. Gupta stepped down from his position at UBC in August, just 13 months after he'd been hired for a five-year term as president. The reasons for his abrupt departure were never fully explained, but at the time UBC said in a statement that he had "decided he can best contribute to the university and lead Canada's innovation agenda by resuming his academic career and leadership roles in the business and research community." The statement said he would return to UBC's department of computer science after completing an academic leave.
Dr. Gupta's sudden resignation caused an uproar at the university, with rumoured explanations ranging from his lack of administrative experience to conflicts with the board of governors. The controversy led to demands from the faculty association for a fuller accounting. In response, John Montalbano, chair of the board of governors, wrote that while the board viewed Dr. Gupta's resignation as a "regrettable development for the university," the parties were bound by confidentiality arrangements.
When he became UBC president, Dr. Gupta was seen as an innovator who could foster better links between the university, industry and government. He was then chief executive officer and scientific director of Mitacs, a not-for-profit organization that promotes such partnerships. He remains a board member of Mitacs, a position he has held since 2000.
Dr. Gupta could not be reached immediately for comment, but, in a statement issued by U of T, he said he'd use his experience at UBC and Mitacs to explore research and educational links in his new post.
"With U of T being an urban university and right downtown, there will be lots of opportunities to build new kinds of links," Dr. Gupta said.
"Of course there are private sector links, but there are also public sector links, government links, not-for-profits and foundations. Universities can be real drivers for social and economic change and the best way to make that happen is through partnerships outside the university. So how do you build those kinds of partnerships? That's what I'm looking forward to exploring."
Mitacs (which stands for Mathematics of Information Technology and Complex Systems) describes itself as Canada's only mathematical sciences research network. The organization strives to show industry how mathematical sciences can be used to solve problems, and it has created an internship program that helps mathematical sciences graduates get work experience.
Ravin Balakrishnan, chair of U of T's computer science department, said he is thrilled that Dr. Gupta is returning to his alma mater. "Especially fantastic is his record at Mitacs, which we really hope to leverage as we take U of T computer science into new collaborative opportunities with industry," Dr. Balakrishnan said.
In a profile posted on the Mitacs website, Dr. Gupta is described as "a well-regarded expert in science and innovation policy with a proven track record in building meaningful research collaborations between Canadian businesses and universities."
It says he sits on a number of boards, including the Canadian Statistical Sciences Institute, the Canadian Mining Innovation Council, Mprime Network, a not-for-profit research organization, and GRAND NCE, a digital media research network that works with 31 universities and 200 industry, government and non-profit partners.