November 7, 2011 —
The University of Ottawa is proud to announce the appointment of the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti and former Governor General of Canada, as Chancellor. Ms. Jean becomes the 13th chancellor in the University’s history as of February 1, 2012, succeeding Huguette Labelle, who will have held the position for 18 years and whose mandate will be ending on January 31, 2012.
“All students, professors and staff at the University of Ottawa are very happy and proud to welcome the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean as a member of our extended family,” said President and Vice–Chancellor Allan Rock.
“The unifying values championed by Ms. Jean fully match our university’s desire for a healthy academic environment, open to the world and looking towards the future,” said Robert Giroux, President of the Board of Governors.
Michaëlle Jean was born in Haiti, in Port-au-Prince. She and her family arrived in Canada in 1968, after fleeing the dictatorial regime then in power.
After studying comparative literature at the Université de Montréal, she taught Italian in that university’s department of modern languages and literatures. Along with her studies, she worked in shelters for female victims of domestic violence and helped establish a network of emergency shelters in Quebec and across Canada. Subsequently, Ms. Jean enjoyed an outstanding career as a TV journalist, anchor and host of news programs on Radio–Canada and CBC Newsworld (now CBC News Network).
Michaëlle Jean served as Canada’s 27th Governor General from September 27, 2005 until September 30, 2010. At the end of her term, she was named UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti. As well, she is co–chair of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, which supports citizen action across Canada through the arts and culture as means of social transformation and youth mobilization.
“I’m very excited about this appointment and I thank the members of the Board of Governors and the Senate, as well as the president of the University, for the trust they have placed in me. At this time, I also wish to send greetings to the faculty and students—I’m thrilled to be able to reflect their goals and achievements. In this regard, Huguette Labelle’s outstanding contributions and complete dedication can only serve as an inspiration,” said Michaëlle Jean, who assumes her new position on February 1, 2012.
Her mandate as UNESCO Special Envoy for Haiti is very much in the strategic plan Destination 20/20 of the University which promotes civic engagement and openness to the world. This function of chancellor, exercised on a voluntary basis without pay, will strengthen her attachment to the institution that welcomed her UNESCO offices and those of Michaëlle Jean Foundation, which she is co-founder and co-chair with Mr. Jean-Daniel Lafond.
The University of Ottawa also wishes to thank Huguette Labelle for her extraordinary devotion. She has served our university as Chancellor in exemplary fashion for 17 years. In 1994, at the start of her first term, the student population numbered around 18,000; today, it is over 40,000. Huguette Labelle has overseen this evolution, full of challenges and possibilities, with professionalism and distinction. She celebrated the University’s 150th anniversary with us. She has congratulated graduates at nearly two hundred Convocation ceremonies. She has handed out honorary doctorates to leaders in various fields, including business, science, international affairs, space exploration, medicine, arts and entertainment. She has applied her outstanding skills at both negotiation and consensus–building, as well as her keen business sense, to various key issues directly affecting our university.
The Chancellor of the University is appointed by the Board with the concurrence of the Senate and holds office for four years with eligibility for re-appointment. The Chancellor is the titular head of the University and is accorded the place of honour at commencement exercises and other functions. For more information on the procedure for selecting a Chancellor, see http://web5.uottawa.ca/admingov/docs-selection-chancellor.html.