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Kathleen Taylor, Chancellor

Kathleen Taylor, Chancellor

York University's 14th Chancellor

An esteemed York alumna, Ms. Taylor holds a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School and a Master of Business Administration from the Schulich School of Business. Unafraid of breaking downs barriers, Taylor shares York’s vision to “right the future.”

Role of the Chancellor: To be the titular head of the University and to confer all degrees.

Kathleen Taylor is an experienced international business leader and corporate director in the public and private sectors. Based in Toronto, Canada, she is well recognized for her leadership and governance skills, and for her multifaceted business expertise across various industries and geographies.

Most recently serving as the Chair of the Board of the Royal Bank of Canada, she was appointed as a director from 2001 and as Chair from 2014 to 2023, helping to oversee a period of significant growth and international expansion for the bank. Prior to this role, Ms. Taylor was the President and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, where she was instrumental in building Four Seasons’ global portfolio and international brand over almost 24 years with the company.  

Today, Ms. Taylor is Chair of Altas Partners, a fast growing private equity investment firm, with approximately $10 billion of capital under management and invested with numerous companies across North America. She is also the Vice-Chair of The Adecco Group (Zurich), the world’s leading talent advisory and solutions company, and serves as a director of Air Canada (Montreal), Canada’s largest air carrier, and Mattamy Asset Management (Toronto). In addition, she is the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Cabot Collection, a developer and operator of golf resorts and residential properties. 

A champion of women and children, Ms. Taylor is Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Hospital for Sick Children and the Immediate Past Chair and a member of the Board of Directors of the SickKids Foundation. She is also a Founding Visionary and Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee of The Prosperity Project, a national not-for-profit devoted to the advancement of women in leadership and the economy.

Ms. Taylor is a member of the C.D. Howe Institute’s National Council, Co-Chair of their Human Capital Policy Council and a member of the Task Force on the Digital Economy. She is also the Chancellor of York University and serves on the Dean’s Global Advisory Council of the Schulich School of Business. 

Among Ms. Taylor’s many accolades for business achievement are: Member of the Order of Canada; inductee into the Canadian Marketing Hall of Legends; member of WXN’s Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame; recipient of the Schulich School of Business Award for Outstanding Executive Leadership; recipient of the inaugural Medal for Career Achievement from the Hennick Centre for Business and Law; and recipient of the Governance Professionals of Canada Peter Dey Governance Achievement Award.

Ms. Taylor holds an M.B.A. from the Schulich School of Business, a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) from the University of Toronto. She has also received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Toronto, McGill University, York University and Trent University; an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Mount Saint Vincent University; and an Honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Huron University College.

Photo of Kathleen Taylor

Appointment of the Chancellor

Applicable Policy: York Act

The appointment of a Chancellor is addressed in the York Act.  Section 14 provides for the appointment of the Chancellor “by the Board, after consultation with the Senate” and that the Chancellor “shall hold office for three years or until his successor is appointed”.   The powers of the Board in Section 10(a) of the Act clearly include the appointment of the Chancellor. Consistent with Section 14, Section 12(a) states that the Senate has power “to consult with the Board and to make recommendations as to the appointment of the Chancellor and the President”.

The system of governance established by the York University Act is bicameral, with two governing bodies: the Board of Governors and the Senate. The power to act on the University’s behalf is divided among the Chancellor, the Board, the Senate and the President (who is also the Vice-Chancellor). But for the powers specifically given to Senate over academic policy, and to the President over student conduct and other matters, the “government, conduct, management and control of the University and of its property, revenues, expenditures, business and affairs is vested in the Board” by the York Act.

The Chancellor is the titular head of the University and has the power to confer all degrees. Notwithstanding the independent powers given to the Chancellor, Board, Senate and President, the York University Act provides for interdependence by requiring consultation and approval among the governing bodies, the Chancellor and the President in a number of areas. Enclosed is a chart outlining the powers of the constituent elements under the Act.

Criteria for the Selection of the Chancellor of the University

“The Chancellor of York University should be a highly esteemed individual who is regarded as a visionary leader able to command the respect of the University community and to build bridges with the Community at large. They should appreciate and embody the core values of the University as set out in York's Mission Statement.  The Chancellor embraces York’s accomplishments and aspirations and carries out the duties of office in a way that enhances the University's and students’ welfare. With a passion for higher education, they should have the capacity to convey York’s values to the public and to government and to remind the University of the evolving needs and expectations of society. The Chancellor should have the time to confer the University's degrees at Convocation, to play an active role in the University and to participate in its on-going life. They should not have been Chancellor of another University nor be in a conflict or apparent conflict of commitment between a duty to York and to another University.”

Selection Process and Selection Committee Composition

The search process and criteria have been established by the Executive Committees of Board and Senate.

In the spring of 2020 a review of the composition of the selection committee by both Executive Committees concluded that a smaller complement of Senate and Board Executive members would improve the ability to convene timely meetings.  It was therefore agreed that the search committee be composed of:

  • 3 members of Senate Executive (one of whom is the Chair of Senate)
  • 3 members of Board Executive (one of whom is the Chair of the Board who shall Chair the Committee)
  • 1 alumni member nominated by the Alumni Association
  • 1 student member nominated by the Student Senator Caucus
  • President
  • University Secretary as Secretary

View Past Chancellors