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Editor's Notebook: Our new Chancellor is “a trekker”

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.

Chancellor Jim LeechChancellor Jim Leech

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...

Daub novelMerv 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.