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Laurier community mourns passing of Leanne Holland Brown

The Wilfrid Laurier University community is mourning the loss of Leanne Holland Brown, dean of students for the Waterloo campus and a beloved colleague, mentor and friend. Holland Brown died after being struck by a vehicle while walking near the university on April 24. She was 43 years old.

Known for her extraordinary kindness and compassion, Holland Brown's death has been felt deeply throughout the Laurier community.

"I think if we look to the ideal of we want a Golden Hawk to be, that is Leanne," said Samantha Estoesta, a former colleague who credits Holland Brown with offering her mentorship and support through difficult times. "You’re never going to find another Leanne and I think that’s what’s most heartbreaking."

Holland Brown left an indelible mark during her nearly 15 years at Laurier, the last nine as dean of students on the Waterloo campus.

Leanne Holland Brown
Leanne Holland Brown

"She enriched the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing her and she will be deeply missed."

– President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy

Known for the empathy and caring she brought to the role, Holland Brown was passionate about student wellness and academic success. She strove to ensure students had the best possible experience at Laurier, working directly with students and their families, as well as serving as a resource for faculty and staff members.

Holland Brown also helped drive policy changes and the creation of programs to support students in need. Those programs included the Blue Folder Initiative, a guide to help faculty and staff members concerned about a student's well-being, and mental health training for staff and faculty members.

"Leanne was a loving and compassionate individual who embodied the Laurier spirit and sense of community," said Laurier President and Vice-Chancellor Deborah MacLatchy. "She enriched the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing her and she will be deeply missed."

Prior to her appointment as Waterloo campus dean of students in 2010, Holland Brown served as manager of Laurier's Student Leadership Centre from 2007 to 2010 and as a student life coordinator at Conestoga College from 2005 to 2007. She also worked in Laurier’s Residence Life department from 2000 until 2003.

A graduate of the University of Waterloo, Holland Brown also held a Bachelor of Education from Brock University and Master of Arts in Leadership from Royal Roads University.

She is survived by her husband, Ken, and two sons, Holden and Andrew.

A memorial fund has been established in Holland Brown’s name to honour her legacy at Laurier. Donations to the fund will directly support Laurier students, with specifics to be determined by Holland Brown’s family. Visit for more information.

Laurier will also host an on-campus celebration of Holland Brown’s life and legacy next fall, when the majority of students return to campus.

Look for more about Leanne Holland Brown’s lasting legacy in the fall-winter edition of Laurier Campus magazine.