Markham anti-racism advisor named university chancellor

The special advisor for the City of Markham’s anti-Black racism strategy has been named as the University of Guelph’s next chancellor.

“Mary Anne Chambers embodies our university’s purpose and promise to ‘Improve Life,'” says President Charlotte Yates. “She has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others. She has worked tirelessly to make higher education accessible and inclusive for everyone and to improve circumstances for children, youth and families, especially in racialized communities in Canada and around the world.”

After immigrating to Canada from Jamaica with her husband and two young sons in 1976, Chambers held progressive roles with Scotiabank and eventually served as senior vice-president. She was elected to the Ontario legislature as a Liberal in 2003 and appointed minister of Training, Colleges and Universities (TCU) and then minister of Children and Youth Services.

As Minister of TCU, Chambers announced the largest multi-year investment in post-secondary education in four decades and introduced major improvements to student assistance policies and funding. She has personally funded more than 60 scholarships for students at Ontario universities and colleges, including an entrance bursary for Black students in U of G’s College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.

“I have always been passionate about education as being the door to opportunities for a better quality of life for individuals, their families, communities and, ultimately, our entire world,” says Chambers. “This university has so much to contribute to the achievement of the ambitions of the people of this province, our country and beyond, given its areas of specialty and its long-standing commitment to sustainability in its broadest sense. I am truly honoured to be chosen to serve the U of G as its chancellor.”

Chambers was a member of U of G’s Board of Governors from 2010-2016. She was named to the Order of Ontario and has received the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee medals, the Prime Minister of Jamaica’s Medal of Appreciation, a University of the West Indies Vice-Chancellor’s Award and a YWCA Toronto Woman of Distinction Award.

As chancellor, Chambers will preside at convocations, confer all U of G degrees, provide strategic advice to the president and act as an ambassador. As its senior volunteer, she will also represent its interests to all government levels. She will be installed during a ceremony in June.

Mary Anne Chambers is the 10th chancellor since the university’s creation in 1964. Photo courtesy of the University of Guelph.

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