Laurier’s new chancellor delivered an inspiring message to graduating students at fall convocation: travel the world, experience other cultures and remain engaged with your alma mater.
“Go out into the world and use the wonderful talent you have and the knowledge you have gained to make a positive contribution to understanding and peace, but never forget that there is a home for you here,” Eileen Mercier said.
An active Laurier alumna and successful business leader, Mercier was installed Oct. 28 as chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University — the ninth person to hold the post since the university became a public institution in 1973. She succeeds Michael Lee-Chin, who served with distinction as chancellor of the university since 2011.
“Eileen Mercier exemplifies the Laurier ethos of inspiring lives of leadership and purpose,” said Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of the university. “In addition to her many professional accomplishments and extensive community engagement, she has been a lifelong champion of higher education. As an active Laurier alumna and past chair of the Board of Governors, Eileen is the ideal choice to help lead the university forward.”
Mercier graduated from Waterloo Lutheran University with a BA in English and an academic gold medal in 1968. She went on to earn an MA in English from the University of Alberta. Armed with a solid liberal arts education, Mercier began her business career in the communications department of the Toronto Stock Exchange. She later earned an MBA at York University. From there, she went on to become one of the first women in Canada to build a career in corporate governance and has long been considered one of Canada’s foremost authorities on board governance.
“I am delighted and honoured to accept this appointment,” Mercier said. ”This is very much a homecoming for me. Laurier has always been close to my heart and I look forward to connecting with students and sharing whatever wisdom I have gained over my long career with those who are just beginning theirs.”
Mercier is currently the chair of the board of directors of Payments Canada, the organization responsible for the clearing and settlement of financial transactions in Canada. Previously, she served as chair of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan board and is the former president of Finvoy Management Inc. and a former senior vice-president and chief financial officer of Abitibi-Price Inc. She has served on the boards of many corporations and health-care and arts organizations. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors and a Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers. In 2011, she was named one of Canada’s Top 25 Women of Influence and has twice been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the Accenture corporate directors category. She has been awarded honorary doctorates from both Laurier and York University.
Throughout her busy career, Mercier has stayed close to Laurier. She served on the Board of Governors for many years, 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 the 100 Alumni of Achievement. In 2013, the university awarded her an honorary doctor of laws degree. She is a current member of the university’s President’s Council of Advisors and the Campaign Cabinet, as well as a longtime member of the Alumni Choir.
As chancellor, Mercier will be a member of the Board of Governors and Senate, and will serve on the Senate honorary degree committee and the Board development committee. She will also preside over graduation ceremonies and will officially bestow all degrees and diplomas.
Outgoing chancellor Michael Lee-Chin is stepping down after five years of dedicated service. Earlier this year, Lee-Chin was appointed chairman of the Government of Jamaica's newly established Economic Growth Council by Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness. In this role, Lee-Chin will lead a team from the private and public sectors, advising the government of Jamaica on the adoption of a framework of initiatives designed to facilitate economic growth.
“Michael has provided the university with invaluable insight and guidance since joining us as chancellor in 2011,” Blouw said. “I wish to thank him for his dedicated service, wise counsel and generosity. He has been, and remains, a great friend to the university.”
Watch: Video of Laurier's fall 2016 Waterloo convocation ceremony