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Photo by Lorraine Hjalte for the University of Calgary

Jon Cornish is U of C’s 15th Chancellor-elect

By Sophia Lopez, May 10 2022—

The University of Calgary has announced its 15th Chancellor-elect, Jon Cornish, who will begin his four-year term on July 1.

The university’s chancellor is elected every four years by the Chancellor Search Committee. The elected serve as an ambassador for the university and advocate for its interests. 

While Cornish is widely known for his nine-year football career playing for the Calgary Stampeders, his initiatives to create a more inclusive environment to help others has made him a suitable replacement for the current U of C Chancellor, Deborah Yedlin.

Cornish is the founder and president of the Calgary Black Chambers, a non-profit organization set to support Black, Indigenous and people of colour communities. He has also been involved in the You Can Play project, where he has worked to support the LGBTQ+ community in their safety and inclusivity within the sports community. Cornish’s extensive volunteering has allowed him to find the chancellor opportunity at the U of C. 

“I started a nonprofit, the Calgary Black Chambers. We’ve gone to raise over $100,000 to support students in Calgary. My time as a volunteer with the Children’s Hospital, and then the Calgary Foundation, and then Wood’s Homes working with rescue — those all colour my experience,” said Cornish. “So, I definitely am a football player, but I’ve never been just a football player.”

Through his football career and leadership roles in several organizations, Cornish has established himself as an educator, especially for the youth and those in need of guidance. Now, as a part of the U of C community, Cornish plans on supporting students in order to help create the best possible university experience for them. 

“In my time with the Stampeders, I learned how to be a cheerleader,” said Cornish. “That’s definitely something I’ll do at sports games for the Dinos, but also going out into the community and sharing the story of the university, letting people know of the exciting and amazing things that were getting done on campus. I want to work hard to be the very best I can be. But the number one thing I’ll be focused on doing is elevating the students, elevating the alumni.”

Deepening the U of C’s relationship with its alumni is one of the goals Cornish wishes to accomplish during his term as chancellor. He discussed how he wants to be there for students and listen to their needs.

“I want to have an open door policy, I want to be able to understand the specific issues people face,” said Cornish. “I understand these last two, three years have been incredibly difficult — both on our physical and mental health — we need to make sure all of our students feel safe so they can be the best students they can be.”

Cornish is excited to get started at the U of C in July, and he expressed the honour he feels being the 15th chancellor-elect. 

“Over the years, I have become very much aligned with the University of Calgary’s mission, its values and its objectives. For me, having the opportunity to support our students to help them become the people that will change the world in the future — I have never had a greater honor in my life,” said Cornish. “I look forward to working with each and every student, alumni, staff, faculty and volunteers to make sure that we have a safe, inclusive and innovative campus where we are changing the world.”

In a recent U of C news release, university President Dr. Ed McCauley highlighted the work Cornish has done for the Calgary community and how his experiences will make him an excellent chancellor for the university.

“A key contributor in the community, promoting equity and inclusion to make Calgary better, and a legend for the nine years he played with the Calgary Stampeders, Jon Cornish exemplifies our core values as a committed volunteer and a community leader,” said McCauley. “His work in the non-profit, and the finance and investment sectors also make him an outstanding fit as an entrepreneurial thinker.”

For more information on the chancellor and other U of C positions, visit the U of C website.

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