Jamaican-born Dr. Mary Anne Chambers, a former cabinet minister in Ontario, Canada, has been appointed the 10th chancellor of the University of Guelph, a university she has long supported. Dr. Chambers was elected by a unanimous vote in the University Senate at a meeting on April 7, 2022, and will be installed in her new role in June 2022. In her new role, she will preside at convocations, confer university degrees, advise the university’s president, serve as an ambassador, represent university interests at all government levels, and be an ex-officio voting member of the Senate and Board of Governors at the university.
According to Dr. Charlotte Yates, the president of the University of Guelph, Dr. Chambers is the embodiment of the institution’s mission and its promise to improve life. Dr. Yates added that Dr. Chambers has had a life-long dedication to improving life for other people and worked to make higher education more inclusive and more accessible to everyone. Her work has focused on racialized communities both in Canada and around the world.
In 1976, Dr. Chambers left Jamaica with her husband and two sons and immigrated to Canada, where she held progressively more senior positions at Scotiabank until she became its senior vice-president. After taking early retirement in 2002, Dr. Chambers stood for election to the Ontario legislature as a Liberal and after her successful run, she was appointed to serve as Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities and then as Minister of Children and Youth Services.
While serving as Minister of Training, Dr. Chambers obtained the largest multi-year investment in post-secondary education in some 40 years; she also made major improvements in student aid funding and policies. She personally funded over 60 scholarships for Ontario’s university students and colleges, and at the University of Guelph, she established an entrance bursary for Black students in its College of Social and Applied Human Sciences. Between 2010 and 2016, during her membership on the University’s Board of Governors, Dr. Chambers served on the Audit and Risk Committee, the Physical Resources and Property Committee, and was Chair of the Working Group on Responsible Investing. She was also a member of the advisory board of the Guelph Institute of Development Studies and an advisory board member of the GIDS Anti-Racism Working Group.
Commenting on her new role as chancellor of the University of Guelph, Dr. Chambers noted that she has always had a passion for education and its role in opening opportunities for individuals, families, and communities to attain a better quality of life. She believes the university has much to contribute toward achieving the ambitions of people in Ontario, Canada, and the world, because of its areas of specialty and its continuing commitment to sustainability.
Dr. Chambers graduated from the University of Toronto and received honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Guelph, University of Toronto, York University, and Lakehead University. She has been honored with the Order of Ontario, 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. She currently serves as a governor of the International Development Research Center of Canada, a senior fellow at the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs at York University, and is the special advisor for the anti-Black racism strategy of the City of Markham.