Wendy M. Cecil was installed as Victoria's 13th Chancellor on Oct. 13, 2010. Cecil, one of the pioneering women to serve on boards of directors in Canada, is the first woman in the university’s history to hold the office. Elected for a three-year term, the chancellor is the ceremonial head of the institution, presiding at convocations and conferring degrees, as well as serving as Victoria’s chief ambassador.
Victoria University president Paul Gooch remarks, “Among Wendy’s many fine qualities, there are two particularly suited to her role as chancellor. She has an abiding commitment to advancing the cause of education, and to the flourishing of Victoria University in particular. She has always shown a deep interest in the welfare of our students.”
“I first came to Vic in 1967 as a nervous 18-year-old, and it became a home away from home for me during the undergraduate years that followed. My life’s work now is to return the kindness and concern that launched me into adulthood,” says Cecil. “To serve as Victoria’s chancellor is an opportunity to put more bricks into the foundation for students of the present and the future. I want my efforts as chancellor to help even more students realize their dreams.”
Cecil is chair and president of Brookmoor Enterprises Ltd. During her business career, she held a number of positions at Brascan Ltd., now Brookfield Asset Management, including vice-president of business development. She is currently vice-chair of the St. Michael’s Hospital board of directors and chair of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute. She serves on the boards of a number of other volunteer organizations, including the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, and on the campaign cabinet for the Toronto Reference Library.
Cecil has made a lifelong commitment to public service. For more than 20 years, she has lent her leadership skills and passion to a variety of different organizations within the education, health care and arts sectors. She has been instrumental in strategic planning and fundraising for a number of institutions, including Branksome Hall, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Canadian Opera Company, Canadian Stage, the Fraser Institute and the Royal Ontario Museum. She also chairs Victoria’s President’s Advisory Council and U of T’s President’s International Advisory Council and Presidents’ Circle, as well as serving on the board of U of T’s Alumni Association. She was a member of U of T’s Governing Council from 1993 to 2002, and its chair from 1998 to 2002.
A graduate of Victoria College, Cecil holds an honorary doctor of laws degree from U of T and is an associate senior fellow at Massey College. On Dec. 4, 2009, the Government of Canada recognized Cecil for her many years of voluntary service and extraordinary contributions by naming her a recipient of the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award.