Being chancellor

Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015

Author: Linda Scales

Michaëlle Jean

How much do you know about being chancellor of the University of Ottawa or about the current and former chancellors? In the lead-up to the University’s 14th chancellor being announced, the Gazette has compiled a few facts.

  • Michaëlle Jean, the current chancellor, will continue in the position until a new chancellor is named later this year. Jean was Canada’s 27th governor general and is the third and current Secretary-General of La Francophonie.
  • In addition to Michaëlle Jean, two other chancellors lived at Rideau Hall prior to coming to the University of Ottawa. Gabrielle Léger, wife of Governor General Jules Léger, served as chancellor from 1979 to 1985, and Pauline Vanier, wife of Governor General Georges Vanier, served from 1966 to 1973. But Maurice Sauvé, chancellor from 1985 to 1990 and husband of Governor General Jeanne Sauvé, actually lived at Rideau Hall during his wife’s term as governor general from 1984 to 1990.
  • Two chancellors studied here, the University’s first chancellor (1889-1909), Archbishop Joseph-Thomas Duhamel, who graduated from the College of Bytown in 1848, and Huguette Labelle, chancellor from 1994 to 2012. Labelle earned three degrees from the University—a degree in nursing (1960) and both a master’s degree (1968) and a PhD (1980) in education.
  • From 1889 to 1965, the position of chancellor was automatically held by the Archbishop of Ottawa.
  • Vanier Hall was built with funds raised by Archbishop Alexandre Vachon, chancellor from 1940 to 1953. In 1948, he organized an archdiocese-wide fundraising campaign, which raised close to $1 million. Vanier Hall is named after former chancellor Pauline Vanier and her husband Georges Vanier, Canada’s governor general from 1959 to 1967.
  • Archbishop Joseph-Médard Émard became chancellor in 1922 (until 1927), the same year he was named to the Royal Society of Canada.
  • The chancellor must be fully fluent in both official languages and demonstrate leadership in both linguistic communities. Archbishop Charles-Hugues Gauthier, chancellor from 1911 to 1922, was fluent in English and French as well as Gaelic.
  • The chancellor presides over convocation ceremonies, confers degrees, is an honorary member of the University’s Board of Governors and is an ex officio member of the University Senate. The chancellor also represents the University at events on and off campus, such as commemorative ceremonies, student welcoming activities, presentations of prizes and awards, special lectures and conferences and visits by dignitaries. “The chancellor can also provide advice, act as an intermediary and, on occasion, be called upon to resolve conflicts,” says University of Ottawa chief archivist, Michel Prévost.
  • The Gordon F. Henderson Chair in Human Rights and the Gordon F. Henderson Human Rights Scholarship in the LLM program are named after Gordon F. Henderson, who served as chancellor from 1991 until his death in 1993. He was known for his community leadership and philanthropy, particularly at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.
  • The Right Honourable Gérald Fauteux served the University as chancellor from 1973 to 1979. He was also the first chair of the University’s Board of Governors (1965-1966) and was one of the founders of the Faculty of Law, serving as dean of the Civil Law Section from 1953 to 1962. Fauteux Hall, home of the law faculty, is named after him.

Who do you think should be the next Chancellor?

The University of Ottawa has launched a broad consultation process in an effort to identify candidates to succeed Madame Jean as Chancellor. You are invited to contribute to this process by proposing names of those you believe might be suitable.
To learn more about the qualities we are seeking in candidates, visit our Selection of a Chancellor website. Please submit your suggestions before August 28, 2015.
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