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University Canada West under new leadership

University Canada West welcomes new President Dr. Bashir Makhoul

University Canada West (UCW), Vancouver’s pre-eminent university offering technology-enabled, business-focused programs, recently welcomed a new President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Bashir Makhoul.

Dr. Makhoul, a distinguished artist, scholar and higher education leader with a track record of innovation and student experience enhancement, officially took over from outgoing President Sheldon Levy on October 12, becoming the sixth president to lead the university since its establishment in 2004.

“Dr. Makhoul is an exceptional academic and administrator who will be an asset to UCW, Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada,” Levy said. “It’s my pleasure to welcome Dr. Makhoul to UCW, and I look forward to the fresh new perspective he will bring to the university.”

Dr. Makhoul comes to UCW following a six-and-a-half-year term as President and Vice-Chancellor at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) in the United Kingdom, where he spearheaded the creation of the UK’s first Business School for the Creative Industries. Under his leadership, UCA was named Modern University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide in 2019.

“It is my honor to be UCW’s new president,” Dr. Makhoul said. “I share the university’s commitment to providing high-quality education and fostering a vibrant campus community. UCW is an institution with solid foundations: a dedicated staff, an entrepreneurial faculty, a deeply diverse student body and an exceptional campus in the heart of a great city—all the essential ingredients for an extraordinary learning experience.”

Dr. Makhoul brings a unique breadth of experience to his role at UCW. An artist by vocation and training, Dr. Makhoul’s works have been featured in top galleries worldwide. And as a university administrator and leader, Dr. Makhoul has earned a reputation as a catalyst for academic innovation and quality improvement.

What is your vision for the future of UCW?

I envision UCW as a university with a robust local, national and international profile that fosters dynamic relationships with partner institutions around the world, offering students a world-class education and access to a global context of business research, creativity and technology.

Our curriculum will not only continue to adapt to changes in the local social and economic landscape, but it will also envision the future needs of our society. It will embrace creativity, innovation and relevance while emphasizing practical and personalized learning.

UCW has students from more than 110 different countries. This diversity is our strength. Inclusion is our mandate.

We will foster an environment that celebrates our differences and actively promotes an inclusive culture where every voice is heard, every perspective is valued and every individual can thrive. UCW’s commitment to reconciliation with our Indigenous communities is deeply personal and close to my heart, and I am committed to continuing this important work.

As we embark on this journey together, our mission is to empower individuals through education, fostering innovation and contributing to the betterment of society.

How does a good leader help their organization navigate challenging times?

A good leader works collaboratively to get the best out of the people they have. They must demonstrate a plan for the future and, most importantly, take people with them—you need to work with your team and make sure your team is with you. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but nevertheless, without a team, it’s quite difficult to move forward working by yourself.

When navigating something out of the ordinary, you must find creative, innovative responses to the perceived problem. And the best way is not always thinking radically; but while you are trying to resolve issues and problems, it helps to think optimistically. Move with optimism and ambition and take people with you. People feel much more inclined to join you if you have an ambitious strategy—a clear plan that sounds logical but has something to celebrate at the end so people will be happy to push forward.

What are some of the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned over the years?

Don’t sit back and watch, take initiative, take some risks, think creatively and explore other avenues. You must think outside the box—generate new ideas that are genuinely new.

When I joined UCA, almost from the first week, I started planning for a business school within the university for the creative industries. It became the only business school of its kind in Europe and a distinguishing feature of the university.

I also learned that while you can’t work in isolation, to succeed you must have a single-minded approach combined with the ability to persuade your team to go along with you.

You have said that having the opportunity to study abroad opened doors you are still walking through today. What is your advice to aspiring leaders?

My advice is to always be aware of your decision-making processes. Make the right decisions while taking calculated risks. And don’t be afraid to take over where someone else has already failed.

Be positive, consistent and persistent. You must be human, as well. Value the human element around you and value the human intelligence spirit around you. Read the room. Hear others without them speaking.

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Created by BCBusiness in partnership with University Canada West