Brock University is pleased to announce the appointment of renowned scholar and Brock alumna Wendy Cukier PhD, MBA, MA, BA, DU (hon) LLD (hon) M.S.C. as its sixth President and Vice-Chancellor. Cukier, currently Vice-President Research and Innovation at Ryerson University in Toronto, is an internationally respected researcher, expert in emerging technology and innovation and advocate for social justice. She will join Brock as President and Vice-Chancellor on Sept. 1, 2016.
The announcement was made today by John Suk, Chair of Brock’s Board of Trustees, and culminates a year-long search to select a successor for President Jack Lightstone. The search was overseen by an internal committee led by Joe Robertson, immediate past chair of the Board.
Cukier will be the first female President in Brock’s 51-year history, as well as the first Brock graduate to hold the University’s highest office. Today’s announcement comes two months after Brock installed First Nations filmmaker Shirley Cheechoo as its first-ever female Chancellor.
Cukier said she is excited about returning to Brock and helping guide it into a strong future. “In a way it’s like coming home,” said Cukier, “but to a very different home than the one I left decades ago. Brock’s growth has been amazing, and its transformation to a comprehensive university is impressive. Brock has also retained the commitment to teaching and learning and to providing the outstanding student experience I remember so very well. I certainly learned a lot at graduate school – methodologies, theories and models, and professional skills – but I have always said that the foundation for my success was studying history and English as a Brock undergrad.”
Cukier said she is looking forward to meeting and talking to Brock students, but also to working with the community inside and outside the University.
“We will build on Brock’s strengths, expand its partnerships and enhance its reputation, its reach and its impact. I look forward to hearing more about the aspirations of the Brock community and to helping achieve them. Working together, I believe the possibilities are limitless.”
Board chair Suk, himself a Brock alumnus, said Cukier emerged as the leading candidate to help Brock continue its upward trajectory. “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Cukier back to Brock as our next President and Vice Chancellor,” said Suk. “She is uniquely qualified with her strong academic and leadership qualities to build upon the strong foundation that exists at Brock University, and to lead it to new levels of excellence.”
Lightstone, whose second term as President ends June 30, 2016, has led the University through a decade of growth in enrolment, facilities and reputation. Prior to Lightstone’s tenure (2006-15), the list of Brock Presidents includes David Atkinson (1997-2005), Terry White (1989-96), Alan Earp (1974-88) and James Gibson (1963-73). Brock has also had two Acting Presidents, Terry Boak (2005-06) and Susan Clark (1996-97).
Brock will announce the transition plans in early 2016.
Reaction from government, university, community and industry was enthusiastic:
Sheldon Levy, Deputy Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; former President, Ryerson University: “I was very excited to work with Wendy at Ryerson. Innovation runs through her veins. There is no one who worked harder to advance the mission of the university. I know she will be a great president and passionate advocate for Brock. I am looking forward to working with her again as a colleague in my role as Deputy Minister.”
Bonnie Patterson, President, Council of Ontario Universities: “Dr. Cukier has led significant transformational projects and developed innovative partnerships as a member of the executive team at Ryerson that have raised their profile and resources available for meaningful academic initiatives. Her experience as a community builder and contributions at provincial and national levels in higher education research and innovation will add to the Brock community in meaningful ways. Having seen her in action at the Council of Ontario Universities positions her extremely well to represent Brock as its next president.”
Paulette Senior, CEO of YWCA Canada: “Wendy Cukier has led transformation on many levels. Her work promoting diversity and inclusion is internationally recognized, and she is an outstanding role model. Wendy knows how to link rigorous research and action to drive meaningful innovation. One of the YWCA Women of Distinction, her decades of advocacy for social justice and combating violence against women has saved lives.”
Allan O’Dette, President and CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce: “Wendy Cukier has been committed to bringing academia and industry together in a collaborative partnership that has further strengthened local economic growth. She has been a strong partner of the OCC and has worked strategically to help employers find solutions to the skills gap in Ontario through research development and through the promotion of innovation among industry and university leaders.”
Mohamed Lachemi, Interim President at Ryerson University, issued a message to the Ryerson community today: “Wendy has played a major role in the development of Ryerson as a comprehensive university, helping to build our reputation for leadership in innovation, and she has been a driver of change across the university over three decades of dedicated service. Wendy’s vision, leadership, and energy will be greatly missed, and we offer our profound appreciation and thanks for all that she has done for our University.”
About Wendy Cukier
Wendy Cukier is a respected academic leader who helped build Ryerson University and has helped advance Canada’s innovation ecosystem promoting research, commercialization and social and economic change working with business, government and nonprofits. As Ryerson’s Vice-President Research and Innovation, she has led unprecedented growth in research funding of 50 per cent over the past five years and spearheaded a wide range of groundbreaking collaborations to support faculty, studies and partners. Previously, as the Associate Dean of the Ted Rogers School of Management, Canada’s largest business school, she led the launch of the MBA and successful AACSB accreditation.
A recognized scholar with 30 years of experience as a Professor of Information Technology Management, she has also helped supervise graduate students in Public Administration, Communications and Culture, and Law. She has written more than 200 papers or reports on enabling technologies, innovation, and social and political change. She is coauthor of the bestseller “Innovation Nation: From Java to Jurassic Park” and has more than 20 years of experience working with the hi-tech industry.
In 1999, she founded the Diversity Institute, leading action oriented projects aimed at advancing underrepresented groups – women, racialized minorities and immigrants, Aboriginal people, people with disabilities and LGBT people. She has held more than $2-million in research grants in the last five years, including $1-million from SSHRC for the Community University Research Alliance (CURA project) Diversity Leads. Cukier is also a founding member of Lifeline Syria and the Executive Lead of the Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge.
She serves as vice chair of Women’s College Hospital and on the Board of Directors of the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC), NPower, the Canadian Science Policy Consortium and several hi-tech start-ups.
Cukier’s work has won numerous awards, including the Governor General’s Meritorious Cross, one of Canada’s highest civilian honours. In 1999 she was named one of the University of Toronto’s 100 Alumni Who Shaped the Century. In 2010 she was selected as one of 25 Transformational Canadians by The Globe and Mail, La Presse and CTV. She is also a YWCA Woman of Distinction, a Top 25 Woman of Influence and has received the Award of Merit from the Canadian Public Health Association, the Canadian Criminal Justice Association’s Public Education Award and Toronto’s Bob Marley Award.
Cukier received an honours BA in History and English from Brock, a Master’s in History and an MBA from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in Management Science from York University. She also received an honorary doctorate from Laval University in medicine, dentistry and nursing and an honorary Doctor of Laws from Concordia University.