University of Toronto Snags Richard Florida
"Richard Florida, one of the era's most influential urban thinkers, will be leading a new initiative at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management that will allow him to expand his research on how human creativity drives a city's economic success, a source says.
The author of the 2002 bestseller The Rise of the Creative Class has left his post as a public policy professor at George Mason University in Virginia after three years.
U of T spokesman Ken McGuffin confirmed that Prof. Florida will be joining the institution, which academic sources around the country say is a coup for the university. But he declined to divulge details of the position, saying those will be released next month.
The guru of urban economic development has previously taught at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and has also been a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
He argues that if a city concentrates on embracing its bohemians through a dynamic and tolerant urban life, it will be economically successful. One of his eye-catching measures is the "gay index," where he says the more gay-friendly a city is, the more susceptible it is to economic prosperity because of its open-mindedness.
Colleagues and friends say Canada, especially Toronto, is the right fit for Prof. Florida at this time. He was also courted by a Montreal university, sources say.
Prof. Florida has often cited Toronto as one of the more "creative" cities with the potential to be one of the top 20 research and economic hubs in the world. He has visited the city often, regularly meeting with the late urban activist Jane Jacobs. He also has personal connections here, said Meric Gertler, a geography professor at U of T's Munk Centre for International Studies."