Dr. Verna Yiu named University of Alberta’s interim provost after leaving AHS

Dr. Verna Yiu is returning to the University of Alberta in a leadership role after departing from her position as president and CEO of Alberta Health Services earlier this year.

On Friday, U of A president and vice-chancellor Bill Flanagan announced effective July 1, Yiu will become the interim provost and vice-president (Academic) at the institution for a two-year term.

A provost is the senior academic administrator at a college or university, overseeing all educational departments at the institution.

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Yiu is taking over for Steven Dew, who is resigning after seven years in the role and taking an administrative leave, saying the past few years have been taxing and affected his health and stamina.

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“I look forward to returning to the teaching and research that first drew me to the U of A 30 years ago,” he said in a statement.

“The university remains at a critical juncture, and I’m pleased that Bill has arranged for such a capable successor. I look forward to supporting Dr. Verna Yiu through this transition in whatever way I can.”

Yiu is a familiar face at the Edmonton university, which she attended for her undergraduate degree, medical school and residency in pediatrics.

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She attended Harvard University for her fellowship in pediatric nephrology — a specialty that focuses on disorders affecting the kidney and urinary tract in children.

The U of A said she has also served in a number of leadership roles in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, including interim dean (2011), vice-dean (2008-2011) and assistant dean, student affairs (2000-2008) in addition to clinical practice and professorship in the Department of Pediatrics.

Before that, she was the medical director of the Stollery Children’s Hospital in the late 90s.

“I have deep roots with the University of Alberta, and after a decade away, I’m excited to re-immerse myself in this community,” Yiu said in a statement.

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“I know the university is in a place of tremendous change, and I look forward to getting reacquainted quickly so that we can work together to move the U of A into the future.”

The U of A said beyond Edmonton, Yiu is a well-established and respected leader in Canada’s medical community, having served on many boards and committees, including the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

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Yiu served as the president and chief executive officer of AHS from 2016 until two months ago, after serving as executive vice-president and chief medical officer from 2012 to 2016.

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Her contract with AHS was extended in June 2021 for an additional two years. At the time, the health authority said it could be further extended but in early April said she was out.

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Yiu’s permanent replacement has not yet been named. AHS said Cancer Care Alberta and Clinical Support Services vice-president Mauro Chies is serving in the role of interim CEO on a temporary basis.

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