Editor's Notebook: Our new Chancellor is “a trekker”
A tip of the tricolour tam to our new Chancellor and to professor-turned-novelist Merv Daub
The Chancellor is an important person at Queen’s
In case you don’t know … he or she is elected by the University Council and is the highest officer and ceremonial head of Queen’s. The position, which is modeled on similar ones at Scottish universities, was created in 1874. The Chancellor is an ex officio member of the Board of Trustees and various other governance bodies, chairs all meetings of the Council, chairs any joint Board-Senate committee that chooses a new principal, and is the person who confers the degrees on graduates at Convocation ceremonies – one at a time, hour after hour. In a nutshell, the Chancellor carries a lot of responsibilities and has to be a very special person.
Over the years, Queen’s has been served by some truly remarkable Chancellors. I say that with some first-hand knowledge, having had the honour and pleasure of working with four of them – Agnes Benidickson, BA’41, LLD’79 (1980-96), Peter Lougheed , LLD’96 (1996-2002); Charlie Baillie, LLD’00 (2003-08), and David Dodge, Arts’65, LLD’02 (2008-14). And soon the University will have a new Chancellor, its 14th. Jim Leech, MBA’73, begins a three-year term on July 1.
This issue features a Q & A interview with Jim (not James – no disrespect!) in which he talks about how and why he came to be named chancellor, and what his priorities are (p. 7).
Jim is a roll-up-the-sleeves guy with a no-nonsense manner that dates from the earliest phase of his career, as an officer in the Canadian military. In the 43 years since, he has earned a reputation as one of this country’s most astute and well-respected business leaders. In January, he retired as President/CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund, a job in which he oversaw the management of $130 billion in assets. That degree of responsibility alone is the tip-off that Jim Leech is someone special. A look at his CV confirms that. And how!
At age 66, our new Chancellor remains fit, active, and engaged in challenging activities to a degree that few Chancellors before him have – except perhaps former Governor-General Roland Michener (1974-80) and pioneer railway builder Sir Sandford Fleming (1880-1915). Among Jim’s hobbies are scuba diving, skiing, and trekking. Yes, trekking. And it’s an activity he’s serious about.
In fact, on April 21 Jim will set out from Resolute Bay, Nunavut, on a 100-km cross-country ski trek to the magnetic North Pole. He and 23 other Canadian business leaders are raising money for mental health programs for military vets who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. They hope this polar trek, organized by the True Patriot Love Foundation, will realize $1.5 million in donations. Our trekking Chancellor (who has agreed to write a Review article about his experiences) deserves a tip of the Editor’s tricolour tam for his efforts on behalf of such an eminently worthwhile cause.
And a tip of my tricolour tam to...
Merv Daub, Com’66, Professor Emeritus (Business). Merv, a longtime friend of the Review and occasional editorial contributor, has published Mohr Oncemore, the second novel in a planned trilogy that chronicles the life, loves, and adventures of Owen Mohr, a college professor character whom his creator describes as being “a kind of alter ago.” Merv began the eight-year effort to write book one, Mohr Nevermore (2012), in 2003, and it took him about two years to finish Mohr Oncemore. He’s now hard at work on a final volume. I figure Owen will live until he’s about 85,” says Merv. “But I’m still trying to figure out how he dies.”
As you may know, Merv is also the author of Gael Force: A Century of Football at Queen’s and is a member of Queen’s Football Hall of Fame. Merv tells me copies of Mohr Oncemore are available at the Novel Idea bookstore in downtown Kingston, or they can be purchased on-line from Amazon.