William Robins, a professor of English and Medieval Studies and an internationally respected scholar, is the new president of Victoria University, in the University of Toronto. Robins will be the 13th president in Victoria’s 179-year history, succeeding Professor Paul Gooch, president since 2001.
Robins, who began his five-year term on July 1, 2015, has had extensive academic and administrative experience during his 18-year career at the University of Toronto. He has been a fellow of Victoria College since 1996 when he was appointed to U of T’s Faculty of Arts and Science. In 2009, he served as acting principal of Victoria College and in 2013 served as acting vice-dean, faculty and academic life, for the Faculty of Arts and Science. He also served as director of U of T’s graduate English program, one of the largest graduate humanities programs in Canada.
“Victoria College has a noble history of understanding how education contributes to human flourishing, while Emmanuel College also imbues the Vic community with the United Church’s abiding concern for social justice,” said Robins. “Victoria University will continue to thrive, largely because of this distinctive vision, its generous alumni support and its place within one of the world’s great research universities.”
In 2014, Robins received the Outstanding Teaching Award of the Faculty of Arts and Science and, in 2013, was made an affiliated fellow of the American Academy in Rome. He is the author and editor of numerous scholarly publications. His primary research focus is on the production and transmission of vernacular literary texts in 14th-century England and Italy. Classical traditions, religious practices, and popular modes of storytelling are all topics that he has pursued. His research has been supported by the Fulbright Program and Canada’s Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
Robins currently chairs the provost’s advisory committee on the University of Toronto Libraries and is chair of the humanities panel of the Connaught program of research funding. In 2008 he initiated Canada’s first annual conference on medieval literature, the Canada Chaucer Seminar, which he continues to chair. He also serves on the program committee of the New Chaucer Society, the largest professional body in his field. Robins holds a BA from Brown University, a master’s degree from the University of St. Andrews and a PhD from Princeton University.