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Athabasca University president launches bold new vision for Canada’s open university

Newly installed president Dr. Alex Clark says AU is “grounded for growth” from its home in Athabasca while removing barriers to university education for all Canadians.

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Athabasca, Alberta (Oct. 12, 2023)—Athabasca University (AU) will build on its strengths as it looks toward the future, providing even more learning opportunities for all students, regardless of background or circumstances, said president Dr. Alex Clark.

Clark was officially installed today as the university's 11th president at a ceremony and community celebration in Athabasca.

“From its founding, this university has shattered barriers to post-secondary education, providing access to a transformative university education irrespective of sex, gender, race, place, irrespective of physical ability or age. No person is left behind at Athabasca University,” Clark said.

Athabasca region critical to AU's growth

The accomplished academic and leader also reaffirmed AU's commitment to its home community of Athabasca. AU is “grounded for growth” and the Athabasca region is important to these efforts, he said.

“We will work to widen our most needed programs, to add work-integrated learning opportunities for each student in diverse and rural settings, and continue to increase our research with reach and impact for our most pressing challenges,” Clark said. “Development like this will lead to the creation of new jobs for AU and in the region, as well as building capacity in rural communities across Alberta. Growth made possible by working together.”

President's Award for Rural Alberta Nursing Students

As the former dean of AU's Faculty of Health Disciplines, Clark said he is particularly proud that the university runs the largest nurse practitioner program and educates more undergraduate nursing students than anywhere in Canada. More than a third of Canada's nurse practitioners are educated at AU.

To further support health care education, he announced the establishment of the President's Award for Rural Alberta Nursing Students, which will help AU students living in rural Alberta to gain valuable experience in rural health care.

About Athabasca University (AU)

Athabasca University (AU) is one of the world's foremost and fastest-growing online and open education institutions, serving over 38,000 students across 87 countries. AU is the second-largest university in Alberta. AU offers online bachelors, masters, and PhD programs alongside online courses for both personal learning and professional development. It is uniquely founded on the principles of flexibility and openness, giving students control over their studies so they can learn whenever and wherever it is right for them. For more information, please visit:

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Bryan Alary, Manager of Content and Media Relations
Athabasca University

Updated October 18, 2023 by Digital & Web Operations (