It’s official: University of Waterloo president David Johnston was appointed Canada’s next Governor General today by Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He is the first individual with a long and distinguished academic career to hold the post.
Professor Johnston has headed two Canadian universities, serving as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo since 1999 and as principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University from 1979 to 1994. A professor of law, Professor Johnson also served as dean of the faculty of law at the University of Western Ontario from 1974 to 1979.
“The Prime Minister has chosen a person of outstanding accomplishment, deep integrity, with a profound faith in Canada’s future,” said Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. “David Johnston has been tireless in promoting the values and institutions that build a strong society, and is a passionate champion for Canada.”
Professor Johnston chaired AUCC’s board of directors from 1985 to 1987. He has been a mentor to many university presidents across Canada, said Mr. Davidson, adding: “His wisdom and exceptional leadership strengthened all of Canada’s universities.”
A native of Sudbury, Ontario, Professor Johnson studied law at Harvard University, University of Cambridge in England and Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
As an academic, Professor Johnston has specialized in securities regulation, corporation law, public policy and information technology law. He has received more than a dozen honorary degrees from universities across the country, and was the founding chair of the National Round Table on the Environment and Economy, chair of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and in the mid-1990s when Canada was first beginning to understand the implications of the new knowledge economy, chaired the advisory council to the federal government on the information highway. He later also served as chair of Canada’s National Task Force on High Speed Broadband Access. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1988 and was promoted to a Companion in 1998.
Professor Johnston and his wife Sharon are parents of five daughters. Among them, his daughters hold more than 14 degrees from universities in Canada, the United States, Mexico and China.
Professor Johnston will be officially sworn in as Governor General on October 1. His term as president of the University of Waterloo was set to end June 11, 2011. He had indicated months ago that he would not be seeking a new term as president and a search committee is already actively looking for a successor.