January 20, 2023 – Thunder Bay and Orillia, Ont.
Dr. Gillian Siddall has been named Lakehead University’s next president by the University’s Board of Governors. The announcement was made earlier today in a notice to students, faculty, and staff by Lakehead University Board of Governors Chair Maria Vasanelli. Dr. Siddall will become Lakehead’s ninth president on July 1, 2023.
Vasanelli, who also served as Chair of the President’s Search Committee, was very pleased with the committee’s work to select a successor to current Lakehead President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Moira McPherson, who ends her distinguished term in June 2023.
“I am very proud of all the time and work members of our Presidential Search Committee undertook to arrive at this point, including a thorough review of a competitive list of applicants and our engagement in a consultation process that heard from many segments of our University community,” said Vasanelli.
“The result of everyone’s efforts is a candidate who understands our University — its people and achievements, our unique campuses and the communities and regions they serve, and Lakehead’s goals and potential.”
Vasanelli thanked Dr. McPherson for her ongoing dedication as president especially given the global events of the last few years.
“Dr. McPherson has led the University successfully through many challenges, including those posed by the pandemic,” explained Vasanelli.
“She has advanced Lakehead University's strategic and academic priorities, and strengthened collaboration with our communities near and far, leaving a legacy of a strong national and global profile and reputation.”
Dr. Siddall,who has been the President of Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver since 2018, is very familiar with Lakehead University and is looking forward to returning in her new role.
“Lakehead University is a vibrant place where I’ve spent much of my career and I’m thrilled to rejoin the community that is very special to me,” said Dr. Siddall.
“I look forward to working collaboratively to advance priorities in reconciliation, equity, diversity and inclusion, climate action and excellence in research, teaching and learning. In addition to my personal connection to Lakehead, the university’s diverse offering of programs, strong international presence, stellar research record and clear commitment to the student experience energizes me. There is so much good to build on and I’m looking forward to achieving excellent work together in the years ahead.”
Dr. Gillian Siddall first joined Lakehead University in 1998 in a tenure-track appointment at Lakehead University in the Department of English. She went on to become the founding director of Lakehead’s Teaching and Learning Centre before serving as Dean of the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities for six years.
Prior to joining Emily Carr University (ECU), she served as Vice-President Academic and Provost at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design University.
As President at Emily Carr, Dr. Siddall led a number of initiatives, including developing ECU’s first equity, diversity and inclusion action plan; advancing the university’s commitment to reconciliation and Indigenization through curriculum, research and increasing the number of Indigenous faculty and staff; initiating ECU’s first climate action plan; and continuing to advance ECU’s international ranking for art and design education, most recently ranked as 24th and the only Canadian art and design university to rank in the top 50.
Dr. Siddall is an advocate of Indigenization and decolonization within the university sector. She holds an honours BA and MA in English from the University of Guelph, and a PhD in English from the University of Western Ontario. Her research area is Canadian literature, and she has published extensively on the subject of musical improvisation. She is also a jazz vocalist and co-founder of the Guelph Jazz Festival.
“The Board of Governors looks forward to working with Dr. Siddall while acknowledging Dr. McPherson’s successful presidential tenure,” said Vasanelli.
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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 10,000 students in THE’s 2022 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.