Philanthropist and entrepreneur, Michael Lee-Chin, is back for a second term as Wilfrid Laurier University’s chancellor.
He has occupied the position since 2011, when he became the eighth chancellor of the university that became a public institution in 1973.
“I feel so honoured to have been appointed for a second term,” he said.
The university’s president and vice-chancellor, Max Blouw, said they are delighted that Lee-Chin has agreed to remain with them.
“As chancellor, he has generously shared his valuable insights and perspective with the university’s senior leaders,” said Blouw. “He has also been a wonderful ambassador for Laurier, helping us raise the profile of the university among influential audiences. And his warm and engaging presence at convocation has enhanced the meaningfulness of this important ceremony for our graduates and honorary degree recipients.”
Four years ago, Lee-Chin became the second Jamaican-born (the late Ray Chang was the first) to be appointed chancellor of a Canadian university.
He was earning $2.50 hourly as a student bouncer after graduating with a civil engineering degree from McMaster when his life turned around after running into an Investors Group mutual fund salesman who boasted of the exorbitant daily commissions he was making.
Lee-Chin spent two years with the company as a financial adviser before joining Regal Capital Planners in 1979 and working his way up to regional manager. In 1983 at the age of 32, he borrowed funds to purchase $500,000 of Mackenzie Financial stock. After four years, this stock appreciated seven-fold and he used the profit to make his first major acquisition, AIC Ltd., which was a small Ontario-based investment firm.
At that time, Advantage Investment Counsel (a division of AIC Limited) had nearly $800,000 in assets under management. Within 20 years, AIC grew from less than $1 million to $15 billion in assets under management and was servicing over one million Canadians.
In September 2009, AIC’s retail investment fund business was sold to Manulife Financial, making Portland Holdings – of which he’s the chairman – one of the largest shareholders worldwide.
Twelve years ago, Lee-Chin donated $30 million to the Royal Ontario Museum’s expansion and renovation campaign for which the landmark addition was named the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal and the four-storey interior atrium, the Hyacinth Chen Crystal Court, in honour of his mother. He also provided a $10 million gift to the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management for the establishment of the Michael Lee-Chin Family Institute for Corporate Citizenship.
Last September, Lee-Chin pledged to donate $10 million to the three-stage development and expansion of the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, where he resides.