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Honouring Chancellor Leech’s legacy

A successful $1.75 million fundraising campaign ensures that the tireless efforts of Chancellor Jim Leech will always be remembered.

Rendering of the Jim Leech Ceilidh Centre in the revitalized John Deutsch University Centre.
Rendering of the Jim Leech Ceilidh Centre in the revitalized John Deutsch University University Centre.

Jim Leech’s term as the 14th Chancellor of Queen’s University is worth celebrating.

For seven years, the MBA’73 graduate has spent countless hours presiding over 174 convocations, conferring 43,601 degrees, supporting students, and stewarding important relationships with key alumni and partners. As his term comes to a close on July 1, members of the Queen’s community are thanking the chancellor for his tireless efforts.

A fundraising campaign on behalf of Leech has exceeded its goal, raising $1,750,000 in new gifts and commitments to support the revitalized John Deutsch University Centre (JDUC). The ceilidh, the large open gathering space at the heart of the JDUC, will be renamed the Jim Leech Ceilidh Centre in his honour.

“Jim has given so much to this university and its students. It has been an honour to co-lead the effort and recognize his many years of volunteerism, philanthropy, and leadership,” says Barb Palk, Arts’73, the former Queen’s Board of Trustees chair and co-chair of the fundraising campaign alongside Stephen Smith, Sc’72, LLD’17.

“Jim’s impact on Queen’s has been tremendous,” adds Smith. “Whether it is sharing his expert knowledge as a committee member, encouraging community support for Queen’s and its students, or celebrating a student’s convocation with their family, Jim has inspired students, alumni, and our broader community.”

Leech assumed the role of chancellor after retiring as CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan in 2013, but his relationship with Queen’s goes as far back as the 1960s when his father, Brigadier-General George Leech, served as the university registrar.

Leech's decades-long service to Queen’s began in the 1980s when he was elected to University Council and then the Board of Trustees, and also served on the Advisory Board of the School of Business (now Smith School of Business).

He has directly improved the lives of many students, not only though supporting projects such as the Goodes Hall expansion, but by securing funding and directly supporting several financial assistance programs named in his honour, such as the Jim Leech Bursary for Indigenous Students, the Jim Leech MBA Scholarship and the Jim Leech MasterCard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship for African Students at Queen’s.

“All my efforts at Queen’s over the past few decades have ultimately been about helping to prepare students to succeed and make a difference in the world,” says Leech. “I am honoured that Barb and Stephen undertook this fundraiser in my honour and am excited to be associated with the JDUC revitalization which will create a modern, bustling home for the benefit of many future generations.”

When Chancellor Leech's term ends, The Honourable Murray Sinclair will become Queen's 15th chancellor on July 1.

Learn more about the Jim Leech Ceilidh Centre.