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Role of the Chancellor

The Wilfrid Laurier University Act, 1973, section 26 (l) states that “there shall be a Chancellor of the University who shall be appointed by the Board of Governors with the concurrence of the Senate and who shall hold office for four years and is eligible for reappointment for one additional term.”

The chancellor acts as the voluntary, ceremonial head of the university; presides over convocation and officially bestows all degrees and diplomas; and engages with internal and external stakeholders of Laurier to further the university’s mission. The chancellor is also ex officio a member of the Board of Governors and Senate, and serves on the Senate honorary degree committee and the Board development committee.

In order to fulfill their responsibilities, a chancellor must embody the following characteristics and qualities:

  • Be a person of stature, respect and impeccable character;
  • Support the mission, vision and values of Laurier;
  • Be a champion for higher education.

Our Current Chancellor: Eileen Mercier

Business leader, corporate director and governance expert Eileen Mercier is chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University, and is the ninth person to occupy the role since the university became a public institution in 1973.

With nearly 50 years of business leadership experience, Mercier is among the first women in Canada to build a career in corporate governance. She is the chair of the board of directors of Payments Canada, the organization responsible for the clearing and settlement of financial transactions in Canada. Previously, Mercier served as chair of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan board, president of Finvoy Management Inc. and senior vice-president and chief financial officer of Abitibi-Price Inc.

Mercier has also served on the boards of corporations and healthcare and arts organizations. She is a fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors and the Institute of Canadian Bankers. In 2011, she was named one of Canada’s 25 Women of Influence and has been named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women four times in the Accenture corporate directors category and was inducted into the Women’s Executive Network Hall of Fame in 2018. She holds honorary doctorates from Laurier and York University.

Mercier graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree and an academic gold medal from Waterloo Lutheran University. She went on to earn a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of Alberta and a Master of Business Administration degree from York University’s Schulich School of Business.

Mercier is a longtime member of Laurier’s Board of Governors, including a term as chair from 1988 to 1990. In 1991, she received the Wilfrid Laurier University Outstanding Business Leader Award. During the university’s centennial in 2011, she was named one of Laurier’s 100 Alumni of Achievement. Mercier is a longtime member of Laurier’s Alumni Choir, and served on the university’s President’s Council of Advisors and Campaign Cabinet.

Mercier has served as Laurier’s chancellor since October 2016. In 2020, she was reappointed for a second four-year term.

Chancellors at Laurier: 1961 to Present

Waterloo Lutheran University

  • The Hon. W.D. (William Daum) Euler: May 20, 1961 to July 1961
  • The Hon. W. Ross Macdonald: Dec. 6, 1964 to June 1972
  • The Hon. Paul Joseph Martin: June 1972 to Oct.31, 1973

Wilfrid Laurier University

  • The Hon. Paul Joseph Martin: Nov. 1, 1973 to April 30, 1977
  • The Hon. John Black Aird: July 4, 1977 to July 3, 1985
  • Maureen Forrester: May 25, 1986 to May 29, 1990
  • The Hon. Willard Z. Estey: July 12, 1990 to Oct. 30, 1995
  • John E. Cleghorn: Oct. 27, 1996 to June 10, 2003
  • The Hon. Robert (Bob) Rae: Sept. 1, 2003 to March 30, 2008
  • John Pollock: March 31, 2008 to Oct. 28, 2011
  • Michael Lee-Chin: Oct. 28, 2011 to Oct. 28, 2016
  • Eileen Mercier: Oct. 28, 2016 to present

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