President, Centennial College
WHAT SETS HER APART
Transformed college education by embedding global citizenship and leadership across the curriculum
Stellar financial stewardship led to multi-year surpluses, allowing significant reinvestment in the college
Chairs two national postsecondary boards, and is Vice-Chair of Invest Toronto
Ray Ivany, President and Vice Chancellor, Acadia University
From Ray Ivany
As told to Rebecca Eckler
I met Ann in 2000 when I was president of the Nova Scotia Community College and we were looking for a college vice-president of student services and to raise our profile—we wanted to build a national college. We were searching for a needle in a haystack, we were looking for a transformational leader to create a learning-centered environment for our students. Ann emerged out of that recruitment process and everything changed at that point.
We had high expectations, and she exceeded all of them. We presented her with a clean canvas and she drew up a masterpiece of her vision. She has great energy… have you met Ann?
She’s an extraordinary leader, but she’s also incredibly self-effacing and modest. The reality is she gets the transformational power of education in people’s lives. I’ve never met someone who understands that at such a deep level.
Maybe that understanding comes in part from being an immigrant. She came here—young—from Scotland, and she fundamentally has such deep respect for others going through that. And by providing education in the right way, she can help people change their lives.
She’s a great human being and that is felt by everyone who works with her. Was it Martin Luther King who said, ‘It’s always the right time to do the right thing?’ That’s the way Ann leads.
Now as President and CEO of Centennial College, she’s trying to do the right thing for students and the institution. One of the reasons I think she’s been so successful is that people recognize the integrity she has.
There’s always a human component to this work, whether it’s starting a new curriculum or outreach into the community, you can tell that she’s authentic and that’s golden in education.
I remember talking to their board when she was being considered for Centennial. I said, “Whenever she becomes president, she’s going to be the next big thing in college leadership in Canada,” and that’s exactly how it has played out.
We would have held onto Ann forever if we could, but it was clear she was going to need a bigger canvas. I’m not surprised by her success; the awards she’s won are richly deserved. She’s not doing this work out of ambition, but because of the opportunity to help others by showing them how great they can become. They just need to believe.
Great leaders make everyone around them better. No one exemplifies that more than Ann. I really hope you get to meet her.