Alumni Affairs

Acadia Names Libby Burnham New Chancellor


It is our pleasure to report to the Acadia Alumni community that Libby Burnham, CN, QC, DCL and member of the Class of 1960 has been appointed Chancellor by Acadia’s Board of Governors. Libby has been a wonderful supporter and friend to Acadia since her graduation and throughout her outstanding career in law, business and public service. Libby will be Acadia’s 6th Chancellor and the first woman appointed to this important role within our university. Libby was installed during Convocation ceremonies on May 15.

In announcing Libby’s appointment, President Ray Ivany also acknowledged with thanks the enormous contribution made by our Chancellor Emeritus Arthur Irving during his fourteen years of service to Acadia.

 Best Regards,                                                              

President, Charles Coll ‘84                                                 Ian Murray ‘88           

Associated Alumni of Acadia University                                 Executive Director, Alumni Affairs

Acadia University’s Board of Governors announced May 4 that Libby Burnham, CM, QC, DCL, and graduate of Acadia’s Class of 1960 has been appointed the University’s sixth Chancellor. Ms. Burnham was installed during Acadia’s May 2011 Convocation ceremonies.

A woman of firsts, Libby Burnham was born in Florenceville, NB. She graduated from Acadia in 1960 and was the first woman graduate of Acadia to pursue a law degree, which she earned from Dalhousie in 1963. Ms. Burnham was the first woman President of Sodales, an all-male debating society at Dalhousie Law School, and was New Brunswick’s first female barrister. A lifelong supporter of Acadia, she will become the University’s first woman Chancellor.

Ms. Burnham’s distinguished career in law and public service has been defined, in part, by her determination to encourage greater participation by women in public life. She has been an active participant in political and legislative reforms in New Brunswick, Ontario, and across Canada. She has been honoured for her leadership in numerous ways. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Commemorative Medal. She has received the Dalhousie Law School Weldon Award for Unselfish Public Service; the Metropolitan Toronto YWCA’s Woman of Distinction Award for Public Affairs, and is an Honorary Life Director of the Canadian Club of Toronto. Ms Burnham received an Honorary Doctor of Civil Laws from Acadia in 2000 and was a key organizer of Acadia’s 1984 celebration marking the 100th anniversary of Acadia’s first woman graduate, Clara Belle Marshall Raymond, and was the keynote speaker at the 125th anniversary celebration in 2009.

“Libby Burnham exemplifies the lifelong commitment to leadership and community service that Acadia instills in its graduates,” said Paul Jewer (’94), Chair of Acadia’s Board of Governors. “Libby is well known for her willingness to promote the importance of education to young people and for her fondness of Acadia. She has been a vigorous supporter and invaluable source of inspiration for our Alumni Association for many years and our Board is pleased that she has accepted the distinguished role of Acadia’s Chancellor. She will be an outstanding representative and role model for our institution.”

“It’s a sincere privilege for me to welcome Libby Burnham back to Acadia as its Chancellor,” said Ray Ivany, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “Acadia has the good fortune of counting Libby among its many graduates who have made significant contributions to our country and the development of its social and democratic policies. While Libby has enjoyed an extraordinary and successful career in professional and public service, she has also maintained constant contact with Acadia, ensuring this institution and its students benefit from her experience and guidance. She will be a welcome addition to our Board of Governors and we look forward to her first Convocation this May.”

“It’s a great honour to be recognized by the Board of Governors and invited to be Acadia's sixth Chancellor,” said Ms. Burnham. “As a graduate and longtime supporter, I am a proud member of the Acadia family. My Acadia friends and fellow alumni have been a continuous presence and influence in my life and we have shared many memories in our support for Acadia. Acadia prepared me for my life and career with its traditions of academic excellence and an environment to learn, develop, and grow. I welcome the opportunity to work with Chancellor Emeritus Arthur Irving and President Ray Ivany to serve Acadia and help it continue to educate our youth. I am proud that our three children are proud Acadia alumni and share my love and respect for our university on the banks of the Bay of Fundy.”

Ms. Burnham, who resides in Toronto, ON, is currently Counsel at Morris Brown Sosnovitch LLP. She is a member of the law societies of New Brunswick and Ontario and was appointed a Queen's Counsel (Canada) in 1992. Ms. Burnham is a member of the Board of Governors of Trent University in Peterborough, ON. Past directorships include: Minacs Worldwide Inc.; CBC; Life Network; Toronto Rehabilitation Institute Foundation; Past Chair, Wellesley Central Hospital, and I Channel. She is a founding member of Equal Voice; International Women's Forum Executive; and was appointed to the Board of ECHO-Improving Women’s Health in Ontario in 2007. Ms. Burnham is married to retired Justice G. Gordon Sedgwick; their three children John (’00), Anne (‘01) and Jamie (’02) are all graduates of Acadia.

Ms. Burnham was formally installed as Acadia’s Chancellor during Convocation for the Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Arts on Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 3 p.m. in Convocation Hall in Wolfville, NS.


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