Neil Fassina


President, Athabasca University. Executive Committee member 2018 - 2021. 

Dr. Neil Fassina started as the President of Athabasca University (AU) in October 2016. Neil joined AU from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) where he served as the Provost and Vice President Academic and the Dean of the JR Shaw School of Business and the School of Hospitality and Culinary Arts. In prior roles, Dr. Fassina was a Tenured Associate Professor and Department Head in the Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba.

Dr. Fassina holds a PhD in Management from the Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto, a BSc in Psychology from the University of Calgary and is a certified human resources professional (CHRP) and a chartered director through the Institute of Chartered Directors (ICD.D).

As a post-secondary educator, Dr. Fassina has developed courses in effective negotiation strategies, strategic thinking and planning, leadership, conflict management and communications, among other human resource related topics to learners in undergraduate and graduate forums. Complementing his University teaching, Dr. Fassina has delivered continuing, professional, and executive learning sessions in similar topic areas for private, public, and not-for-profit organizations.

As an active researcher, Dr. Fassina’s focus areas addresses questions related to applied decision-making, including negotiations and strategic thinking, as well as social exchange relationships. Dr. Fassina is currently a lead researcher on a grant funded through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Stemming from his passion for teaching, Dr. Fassina is a contributing author on a leading undergraduate human resources textbook in Canada.

Throughout his academic career, Dr. Fassina has strived to maintain strong connections to the communities he serves. In his capacity as a post-secondary administrator, he has and continues to serve on boards of directors in both the non-profit and private sectors. Previously, he has also provided coaching and consulting services in similar topic areas for private, public and non-profit organizations for leaders. Dr. Fassina has also delivered seminars on wine tasting and wine education. He is certified at Level 3 through the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

Short vision statement: 

Among my primary goals would be to work with current and future members of ICDE to reimagine and develop alternative global partnership, collaboration, and engagement frameworks for the betterment of our learners and researchers. 

In the rapidly changing globalized higher education market, members of ICDE collectively face mounting opportunities and challenges in the realm of open, distance, and e-learning environments. In turn, the ability for individual institutions to monitor and adapt to emergent technologies, developments in pedagogy and research, advances in academic and enterprise computing, and alternative University management methods is becoming increasingly limited. Changing learner demographics and the growing entry of both public and private higher education providers further complicate the role of ICDE members in the higher education marketplace. Our ability to effectively navigate this increasingly complex environment is strengthened through effective collaboration and partnership.

With a focus on communities of practice, my priorities would focus on strengthening the network of global leaders to enable ICDE members to stay at the forefront of higher education innovation and reform. This includes the role of global leadership development, data analytics and evidence informed decision making, and resilient economic models that align with the mission of open, distance, and e-learning institutions.

Athabasca University, Canada website.