Linda Hasenfratz, Western’s 23rd Chancellor
By Jason Winders
Noted Canadian industrialist and philanthropist Linda Hasenfratz was named Western’s 23rd Chancellor on May 23, 2019 and officially began her 4-year term on July 1.
As CEO of Linamar Corporation, one of the world’s most successful manufacturing companies, Hasenfratz brings a wealth of international experience and a dynamic, energetic leadership to Western, explained former Western President Amit Chakma.
“Linda exemplifies the type of graduates Western prepares for the world,” Chakma continued. “She is an extraordinary talent and highly respected among education and business leaders alike. She has been a close friend of Western for many years and we are looking forward to the leadership she will bring to our institution in her new role.”
Hasenfratz, BSc’89, MBA’97, became head of Linamar in 2002, after working at the company for 12 years, starting as a machine operator. Her father founded the business in 1964 from the basement of the family home. Today, under her leadership, Linamar employs more than 29,000 people at 60 manufacturing facilities in 17 countries around the world.
Throughout her career, she has been a strong leader adapting to times of great change and helping shape the future. Her depth of knowledge and expertise set her apart and will help Western step up to challenges and opportunities during a pivotal time in postsecondary education, noted members of the Joint Senate/Board Electoral Board for Chancellor.
Hasenfratz is a member of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and worked as part of a group of executives from Canada, the United States and Mexico to advise on key recommendations regarding enhancement of the NAFTA region. She has been widely recognized for contributions to Canadian business and for her commitments to the community.
“I am incredibly honoured to be appointed to this role,” Hasenfratz said. “Western is a world-class institution making a tremendous impact through its talent, expertise and influence. I’m looking forward to working with the entire Western community to help ensure that success continues to grow.”
Hasenfratz has been a keen supporter of the university and regularly shares her advice, strategic thinking and creativity with students, faculty and researchers.
She and her husband, Ed Newton, are long-time advocates for encouraging women to pursue careers aligned with her professional fields. They, along with Linamar and its founder Frank Hasenfratz, established the Linamar Scholarships for Women in Engineering and Business at Westernin 2017. The scholarships support up to 10 female students annually in the Engineering/Ivey Business School dual-degree program.
Hasenfratz also brings deep personal connections to the role – all four of her children have followed in her footsteps and are currently attending Western.
As the honorary and symbolic head of the university, the Chancellor presides at Convocation ceremonies to admit candidates to degrees, diplomas and certificates. The position also serves as an ex-officio voting member of the Board of Governors, university Senate and certain committees of both governing bodies.
The role of Chancellor traces its roots to the founding of the university and its inaugural Chancellor, Bishop Isaac Hellmuth.
A committee jointly appointed by the Board and Senate, whose membership was composed of faculty, staff, students and alumni, unanimously selected Hasenfratz for the position.
Hasenfratz is only the third woman to hold the position in the institution’s history. Canadian psychologist and educator Reva Appleby Gerstein was the first from 1992-1996. Former Hydro One CEO/President and cleric Eleanor Ruth Clitheroe served from 2000-04.
Hasenfratz follows Australian businessman Jack Cowin, who ended his term as Chancellor June 28. She will be installed officially in October.