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Canadian Excellence

Michael Lee-Chin
Michael Lee-Chin

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Laurier Toronto

Michael Lee-Chin appointed chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University

Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Sep 23/11| For Immediate Release

WATERLOO – Renowned businessman, investor and philanthropist Michael Lee-Chin has been appointed chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University.

The appointment has been unanimously approved by Laurier’s Board of Governors, with the unanimous support of the Senate, and will take effect Oct. 28, 2011 at an official installation ceremony at the university’s fall convocation. Lee-Chin succeeds John A. Pollock, who has served as Laurier’s chancellor since March 31, 2008.

“Michael Lee-Chin epitomizes Laurier’s institutional proposition of inspiring lives of leadership and purpose,” said Max Blouw, Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor. “His internationally recognized achievements in the business and investment arenas are matched by his astonishing record of philanthropic work. He is an ideal choice for this key role as the university celebrates its centennial and lays the groundwork for a bold and influential second century.”

Blouw also thanked Chancellor Pollock for his contributions to the university.

“John Pollock has been a strong advocate for Laurier in the role of chancellor, and he has delighted in his connection with our students,” Blouw said. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to him for his unflagging belief in the importance of post-secondary education, and for his leadership and hard work on behalf of the university.”

Lee-Chin is Laurier’s eighth chancellor since the university became a public institution in 1973. As chancellor, Lee-Chin 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. He will also preside over graduation ceremonies and will officially bestow all degrees and diplomas. Chancellors of the university generally serve for a term of four years and may be appointed to a second term.

“It is a great honour and a pleasure for me to accept this position as Laurier’s chancellor,” Lee-Chin said. “I have been impressed by the university and by the track record and energy of its people. I look forward to doing whatever I can in my new role to help the university continue to build its reputation, differentiate itself from other universities, and do a great job of meeting students’ needs in the 21st century.”

Farouk Ahamed, chair of Laurier’s Board of Governors, said: "On behalf of the Board of Governors I am delighted to welcome Michael Lee-Chin as our next chancellor. We look forward to working closely with Michael as Laurier celebrates its centennial and embarks on a number of exciting initiatives over the coming years."

One of Canada’s most successful entrepreneurs, Lee-Chin has frequently been included on Forbes magazine’s annual list of billionaires. As a philanthropist, he has contributed to a wide range of causes, including his 2003 donation of $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum for its renovation by architect Daniel Libeskind.

Lee-Chin is chairman of Portland Holdings Inc., a privately held investment company that manages public and private equity and has a direct ownership interest in a collection of diversified businesses operating in sectors that include telecommunications, financial services media, tourism, health care and waste management. Portland is committed to “Building Strong Indigenous Businesses.” Equally important, these businesses must also seek to improve the social well-being of the communities in which they operate. Lee-Chin formally established as the Portland mantra the phrase “prosperitas cum caritate”, which in Latin speaks to his goal that businesses must “not only do well, but also do good” – that is the measure of success.

Born in Port Antonio, Jamaica in 1951, Lee-Chin worked in his youth in his family’s grocery store and in the engine room of a cruise ship. He came to Canada at age 19 to study civil engineering at McMaster University on a scholarship.

In 1983, at the age of 32, Lee-Chin borrowed money to purchase $500,000 of Mackenzie Financial stock. After four years, this stock appreciated seven-fold and Lee-Chin used the profits to make his first acquisition, a small Ontario-based investment firm called AIC Limited. At the time, Advantage Investment Counsel (a division of AIC Limited) had assets under management of just $800,000. Within 20 years, AIC had grown substantially and, at its peak, had more than $15 billion in assets under management. In September 2009, AIC’s retail investment fund business was sold to Manulife Financial. Lee-Chin and his team continue to sub-advise the flagship Advantage Series of funds for Manulife through Portland Investment Counsel. Lee-Chin has managed the Advantage Fund since its 1986 inception.

One of the Portland companies is the National Commercial Bank of Jamaica (NCB). Under Lee-Chin’s stewardship, NCB is now the largest bank in the country. In 2011, The Banker magazine, a publication of London-based Financial Times Ltd., ranked NCB third in the world for return on capital in its Top 1,000 Banks survey, placing NCB among the world’s premiere lending institutions. The bank also has a global reputation as a leader in corporate citizenship, providing financial support to over 60,000 students since 2003.

Lee-Chin has won numerous awards and honours for his business and philanthropic achievements, including the Order of Jamaica, Canadian Entrepreneur of the Year (services category), and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Youth Business Foundation. He holds several honorary degrees, including honorary doctor of laws degrees from Wilfrid Laurier University, York University, Northern Caribbean University, the University of the West Indies, McMaster University, and the University of Toronto. He also he sits on the board of The Trust for the Americas, a foundation affiliated with the Organization of American States (OAS).


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