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Search begins for next Queen’s Chancellor

Advisory committee convened to accept and assess nominations before recommending a candidate for the role.

2019 Convocation ceremony at Grant Hall
Convocation ceremonies, such as the 2019 event shown here, are presided over by the Chancellor. It is one of a number of duties the role entails. (University Communications)

Queen’s has launched its search for the university’s 15th Chancellor – a position first filled in 1877 and that has since been held by prominent individuals, including former Canadian Prime Ministers, Premiers, and Governors General. Heading up the search is an advisory committee, which will be charged with seeking out and reviewing potential candidates. Its members will ultimately make a recommendation to Principal Patrick Deane, the committee’s chair, about who they believe should take up the role once Chancellor Jim Leech completes his second term on June 30, 2021, after seven years of service. Principal Deane will present this recommendation to the University Council, which is the body that will make the final decision.

“The Chancellor serves as the ceremonial head and highest officer of the university,” says Principal Deane. “Those selected for this office do so as representatives of the institution’s values and thus, must demonstrate a deep commitment to the welfare and success of Queen’s.”

The Chancellor role requires a range of duties, including positions on both the University Council and Board of Trustees, as well as a number of important committees for each. The Chancellor also presides over convocation ceremonies, confers degrees, and sits as part of the Senate committee that deliberates the bestowing of honorary degrees each year. The Chancellor also plays a central role in connecting with Queen’s alumni, hosting dignitaries, and selecting the institution’s Principal.

The process is now underway, with Queen’s announcing the membership of the advisory committee and its terms of reference for the search. The Advisory Committee to the Principal Regarding the Selection of a Candidate to Serve as Queen’s University’s 15th Chancellor represents groups from across the university. Chaired by the Principal, the voting members consist of the Chair of the Board of Trustees, the Rector, two university councillors, a council trustee, faculty and staff senators, a Queen’s University Alumni Association board member, and a Queen’s benefactor.

Non-voting members include representatives from the University Secretariat, the Vice-Principal (Advancement), the Associate Vice-Principal (Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusion), the Associate Vice-Principal (Indigenous Initiatives and Reconciliation), and the Senior Advisor and Executive Director of the Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

The group will meet throughout the rest of the year to review the desired candidates for the role and to call and assess nominees for the Chancellor position. The committee’s recommendation will be presented to the University Council at a special meeting in January 2021 with the new candidate announced sometime thereafter.

Candidates who have been chosen to fill this position have a significant relationship with the university and represent its values, with a national presence that best represents the university’s interests anywhere in the world. They serve as an important point of contact with major donors and act as goodwill ambassadors, and they participate in a variety of student and alumni events, ceremonies, and convocations.

The selected candidate will begin as Chancellor on July 1, 2021, following the end of Chancellor Leech’s tenure.

Chancellor Leech came to the role in 2014, having retired as president and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan – one of the world’s largest pension plans – and having previously led Unicorp Canada Corporation and Union Energy Inc. He served as chair of the board of the Mastercard Foundation from 2015 to 2020 and received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his involvement with the True Patriot Love Foundation, which supports Canadian military families. He also was invested as a Member of the Order of Canada in 2014.

For more information on the process, visit the University Secretariat and Legal Counsel website.