President of University of Prince Edward Island resigns amid misconduct allegations
CHARLOTTETOWN — The president of the University of Prince Edward Island has resigned and the university’s board of governors says it is looking into allegations against him of workplace misconduct.
In a statement Tuesday evening announcing his departure, Alaa Abd-El-Aziz said the last few months “have been very difficult” and his health has suffered as a result.
“Therefore, it is with much regret that I announce that I have decided to retire from UPEI, effective immediately,” he wrote. Abd-El-Aziz held the position for the last 10 years.
The UPEI board of governors issued its own statement Wednesday afternoon, saying “allegations of workplace misconduct involving the former president” were brought to the attention of board chairman Pat Sinott on Monday. “Taking these matters seriously, the chair and the university’s legal counsel brought the allegations to the attention of the former president that day,” Sinnott wrote in the statement.
He said the board will undertake an independent, third-party review to determine the facts surrounding the allegations.
“The University of Prince Edward Island is committed to providing a safe, respectful, and positive environment for all members of the UPEI community. The steps that are being taken represent that commitment and will ensure UPEI’s values are reflected in all that we do,” Sinnott wrote.
The board has begun the process of identifying an interim president. It says an update on the process will be provided in the coming days.
In 2017, Atlantic Business Magazine named Abd-El-Aziz a Top 50 CEO in Atlantic Canada. Since coming to UPEI from the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus in Kelowna, where he was provost, Abd-El-Aziz has been credited with helping the university boost its enrolment and attract more international students.
In his statement, Abd-El-Aziz said he’s leaving much sooner than he anticipated and is disappointed he won’t be able to complete projects such as the development of a medical faculty. He ended his statement saying he’s grateful to the many colleagues and students with whom he has worked.
UPEI was founded in 1969 and is the only university in the province.
By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton
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