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May 16, 2024 | Campus

Wesley J. Hall elected to serve as the 35th chancellor of the University of Toronto

Wesley J Hall smiling

Wesley J. Hall, business leader and champion of equity, diversity and inclusion, will serve as the next chancellor of the University of Toronto.

Hall was elected by U of T’s College of Electors to serve a three-year term effective July 1, 2024. He will be the university’s 35th chancellor since its founding in 1827.

“As I take on the role of the chancellor at the University of Toronto, I am deeply privileged and humbled to carry forward the institution’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and advancement, values that strongly align with my personal beliefs,” said Hall, who holds several honorary doctorates and an ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.  

“I take on this role with a vision where every voice resonates, every perspective is honoured and appreciated, and every opportunity is open to all, regardless of background or experience. Rooted in the belief that education is a fundamental human right, this esteemed position is about dismantling barriers and paving the way toward a more inclusive and equitable future for everyone.

“We are living in a diverse world – but there is still more work to be done. Together, let us champion inclusivity, ensuring that the university remains a beacon of excellence, progress and limitless possibilities.”

An ambassador for the wider community

Elected for a three-year term, the chancellor is the ceremonial head of the university, presiding at convocations, conferring all university degrees and acting as ambassador to the wider community and alumni worldwide. The chancellor also plays an essential role in advancing the university’s interests within the local, provincial, national and international arenas.

Hall’s election follows a rigorous search process conducted by the College of Electors and chaired by Candice Jay. The college, which was established by the Governing Council in 1971, comprises members representing the constituent alumni associations of the University of Toronto Alumni Association (UTAA) and is charged with the responsibility of electing alumni governors and the chancellor.

“Dr. Wesley Hall is a widely respected and inspirational business leader, and he is deeply committed to creating opportunities for disadvantaged individuals and communities,” said Meric Gertler, president of U of T.  

“His professional and personal accomplishments and talents make him eminently qualified to take on the position of chancellor. I am delighted that he has accepted this key role, and on behalf of the entire University of Toronto, I thank him for his willingness to contribute his immense talent and experience to the advancement of our academic mission.”

An authentic leader and a community builder

Hall is Executive Chairman and Founder of WeShall Investments, Kingsdale Advisors and the BlackNorth Initiative. WeShall Investments is a private equity firm with a diverse portfolio of companies predominantly led by BIPOC entrepreneurs. The BlackNorth Inititiave is committed to removing systemic barriers impacting the Black community.

He has improved the lives of thousands of children in the Caribbean and Canada, donating both his money and time. And he has been instrumental in mentoring many of Canada’s Black entrepreneurs and leaders.

“I am delighted with Dr. Wesley Hall’s appointment as Chancellor-elect,” said Anna Kennedy, chair of U of T’s Governing Council.

“Dr. Hall’s remarkable achievements in the business world and unwavering dedication to empowering marginalized groups resonate deeply with the University of Toronto’s values of equity and inclusivity. He is an authentic leader and a community builder, and we anticipate his transformative leadership will enrich our institution’s culture and the experience of our students.”

In 2021, Hall partnered with the Rotman School of Management to introduce a new course on Black entrepreneurship and leadership, the first of its kind in North America. Developed in partnership with the BlackNorth Initiative, and with Hall as the lead instructor, the course has proven to be highly successful. 

In 2023, U of T conferred a Doctor of Laws honoris causa on Hall in recognition of his innovative corporate and entrepreneurial leadership, and for his outstanding service to the local community, as a champion for equity on behalf of the Black community. He has also received honorary doctorates from five other universities.

Broadening opportunities for the Black community

“In addition to his remarkable professional accomplishments, Dr. Wesley Hall’s philanthropic initiatives demonstrate his deep commitment to societal betterment,” said Jay in her role as chair of the College of Electors. “His clear focus on equity and opportunity, and his authentic and inspiring approach as an individual and leader distinguishes him as an outstanding candidate for the role of chancellor. He has a fantastic way of connecting with students and shares stories that inspire change and action. We cannot be more thrilled to welcome him as the next chancellor of the University of Toronto.”

Hall’s achievements in business, and his work to advance and broaden opportunities for the Black community, have been recognized with numerous awards. In 2021, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce awarded him a Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2022, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce recognized him as Canadian Business Leader of the Year. Long celebrated for his generosity and his commitment to charitable causes, Hall’s board service includes SickKids Foundation, Pathways to Education Canada, the Toronto International Film Festival and Huron University College. He also served on the Capital Markets Modernization Task Force for the Ontario Ministry of Finance.

Hall will succeed Chancellor Rose Patten, whose second term comes to an end on June 30, 2024. At that time, she will have completed the maximum length of service in the role permitted by the University of Toronto Act, 1971

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chancellor Patten for her tireless and exceptional work on behalf of the University over the past six years,” said President Gertler.  

“I know it is deeply appreciated by the entire University community, and we all look forward to paying tribute to her in the weeks to come.”

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