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Chancellor Leech to receive honorary degree from RMC

[Chancellor Jim Leech]
Chancellor Jim Leech will receive an honorary degree from the Royal Military College during its 116th convocation ceremony. (University Communications)

Jim Leech, the 14th Chancellor of Queen’s University, is being recognized with an honorary degree from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC). 

Chancellor Leech graduated from RMC with a Bachelor of Science in Honours Mathematics and Physics in 1968 and during that time received acclaim both as an athlete and student leader. He spent most of his active service with the Royal 22nd Regiment as part of NATO forces in Germany. After serving with the Canadian Forces, he attended Queen’s University and completed a Master’s of Business Administration in 1973.

“Being recognized by one’s alma mater with its greatest honour is quite humbling,” Chancellor Leech says. “I am fortunate to have graduated from the two best universities – RMC and Queen’s. Both have had a major impact on my life. I have been fortunate in my career and life to be supported by many talented colleagues which has allowed me to accomplish much more than was possible on my own.”

After graduating from Queen’s at the top of his class, Chancellor Leech entered the financial services and real estate industry, holding increasingly senior executive positions across Canada. In 2001, Chancellor Leech was recruited to establish the private investment arm of the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan. He was later promoted to chief executive officer, overseeing its growth to become Canada’s largest single-profession pension plan, responsible for investing $150 billion for 310,000 teachers by the time he retired in 2014.

Later that year he was appointed Chancellor of Queen’s University. He was reappointed to a second three-year term in 2017 and the university recently extended his current term for another year to 2021.

“The Royal Military College and Queen’s University have both benefitted greatly from Chancellor Leech’s energy, expertise, and enduring commitment,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “He is a source of strength and inspiration for both institutions and this latest honour from RMC is well  deserved. Congratulations Chancellor Leech.”

Outside of business, Chancellor Leech has taken on leading roles with the True Patriot Love Foundation – for which he received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 – the Mastercard Foundation, the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation and 32 Signal Regiment. He co-authored The Third Rail: Confronting Our Pension Failures, which received the 2014 National Business Book Award. In 2014, he took part in an expedition to the magnetic north pole to raise awareness and funds for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 2014. He also served as Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Canada to establish the Canada Infrastructure Bank.

In 2017 Chancellor Leech was inducted to RMC’s Wall of Honour, in recognition of his achievements in academia, business and volunteerism. He is one of only 32 outstanding alumni of Canada’s military academies to receive the honour – joining Colonel Chris Hadfield, Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire, and Air Marshal William Avery “Billy” Bishop, among others.

At Queen’s, Chancellor Leech has also served as a member of the Queen’s Board of Trustees (1984-96) and University Council (1980-84) as well as the Initiative Campaign cabinet. He also kept close ties with the Smith School of Business serving as chair of the advisory board on three separate occasions and as a member of its global council.

Chancellor Leech will receive his honorary degree at RMC’s 116th Convocation on Friday, Nov. 15.

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Created in 1874, the position of Chancellor at Queen’s includes a group of highly-esteemed individuals including Sir Sanford Fleming, Canada’s foremost railway engineer and the father of standard time, and Sir Robert Borden, the eighth prime minister of Canada who made important steps toward a fully-independent Canadian government.

More about the role of the Chancellor and the history of position at Queen’s can be found online.

Follow Chancellor Leech on Twitter at @QUchancellor.