University’s new chancellor prioritizing inclusion

Author and philanthropist hopes to engage with students

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The U of M’s new chancellor has been appointed, a role she calls a “tremendous honour.”

Anne Mahon, an alumna of the Faculty of Human Ecology, began a three-year term on June 3, taking over from Harvey Secter, who served as chancellor since 2010.

The chancellor is the titular head of the university and is a largely ceremonial role. U of M policy outlines the duties of the chancellor, among them conference of degrees at convocation, sitting on a number of boards and committees, acting as an advisor to the president and managing relations with other organizations. The position is unsalaried.

Mahon describes the chancellor position as acting as an ambassador for the university.

“It acts as a bridge to the greater community, and back from the community to the institution,” she said.

“The role of chancellor has no power, but it does have some influence, and I acknowledge that in a way of humility.”

Asked what the chancellor does for students themselves, Mahon said that she thinks it is a “critical” question, noting her work helps students in an indirect but still crucial capacity.

She pointed to her position on the presidential search committee tasked with replacing David Barnard, who is leaving the university in June 2020, and the privilege of celebrating students at convocation.

“I’m here as a volunteer, putting in all these hours, because I care about the university. I want it to be strong in the province. And the stronger the university, the better it is for students,” she said.

“Is there a direct relevance to students? Maybe not. Is there an indirect relevance? There is.

It’s my hope that I’m going to find a way to interface with students,” she added.

“I have an Instagram account, and my goal there is to get to know students or them to get to know me. What does a chancellor do? Go on my Instagram and look, you’ll see.”

Mahon is a founding board member of Humankind International and co-founder of the Book Mates Book Club at the Women’s Correctional Centre. She is also involved in a number of organizations including the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM) and UNICEF Canada.

Mahon’s husband, Paul Mahon, is also an alumnus, and the couple are donors to the university. In 2017, Great-West Lifeco, of which Paul Mahon is president and CEO, along with two other companies, announced a commitment of $10 million to the U of M for the establishment of a leadership institute.

Mahon said she wants to foster a feeling of belonging in everyone at the U of M during her term.

“A lot of people suggested that I pick a sub-community or two, or a couple of things to champion while at the university,” she said. “But I also feel that, to pick a group […] I just don’t feel that I can look at one or two of those groups, which are all important.”

“My focus is inclusion. My hope is that the more people feel included, and not a tokenistic kind of inclusion, but an inclusion where they feel heard, where there’s some lasting sense of inclusion, that from there then people can feel belonging.”