Chancellor Emeritus Jim Leech

Chancellor Emeritus to receive education leadership award

Chancellor Emeritus Jim Leech, MBA’73, is being honoured for his decades of support to Queen’s and the post-secondary community with a major award from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE).

Leech is receiving the 2023 Friend of Education Award, which goes to a person in a leadership role who has made significant contributions to education in Canada.

“He served two terms in our highest ceremonial office and distinguished himself as a leader, an adviser, a mentor, and a friend to Queen’s students, faculty, staff, and alumni,” says Queen’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “His service, both formal and informal, has impacted every level of our university, from the institutional to the personal. He presided over convocations, cheering on our new graduates and offering them words of wisdom. He served on innumerable committees, lending his vast and varied expertise to decision-making processes that have shaped our university’s future.”

While many in the Queen’s community know Leech as the university’s 14th chancellor, he has a long list of accomplishments as a volunteer, philanthropist, and administrator that will have impact for decades to come. 

Leech has shared his talents with countless educational institutions and other organizations across Canada and has made astounding strides in the sector. 

When the architects of the University Pension Plan contemplated a sweeping reform initiative, they drew on Leech’s vast experience as the former CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan to create a plan that would establish greater retirement stability for the employees of Ontario universities.

Leech has also chaired the Smith School of Business Advisory Board for multiple terms and served on the Board of Trustees, the University Council, and as an active member of the Initiative Campaign Cabinet, whose leadership team steered a decade-long $640-million capital campaign. 

Leech has also had a tremendous impact on education in Canada and internationally through his work as chair of the Mastercard Foundation. The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is the world’s largest scholarship program for post-secondary education of African youth at 28 universities around the world, including Queen’s, University of Toronto, McGill, and UBC.

Another Mastercard Foundation partnership with the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre created the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship, which empowers thousands of African students to start or continue scalable businesses.  

Mastercard Foundation also partnered with Queen’s and the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) to expand education for Indigenous youth by creating the Queen’s Weeneebayko Health Education Program.

Helping Indigenous communities is an important cause for Leech. In the wake of the federal government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Leech established a $15,000 need-based bursary for Indigenous students at Queen’s. 

“Throughout my career I’ve been driven by a passion for education and a commitment to giving back to the community,” says Leech. “As a graduate of both Queen’s and the Royal Military College of Canada, I’ve been privileged to witness the transformative power of education and I’ve dedicated myself to ensuring others can benefit from this same opportunity.” 

Another Queen’s community member being honoured by CCAE is alumna Emma Clarke, Artsci’14. The Smith School of Business Senior Relationship Manager is receiving the Rising Star Award, which goes to young professionals who demonstrate achievements, early success, and commitment in the advancement field.

Clarke began her career at Smith School of Business in 2017 as a Development and Stewardship Coordinator. Her keen sense of communications and building relationships led to great success and she quickly rose through the ranks. Last year she was promoted to senior relationship manager and was given the important responsibility of being in charge of a major gift prospect pool.