Claire M.C. Kennedy (BASc 1989), Campaign Co-Chair
Claire Kennedy is Chair Emerita of the University of Toronto’s Governing Council. A chemical engineer and a lawyer, she serves as Senior Advisor, Clients & Industries, for the law firm Bennett Jones LLP. She is also lead director for the Bank of Canada, a public company director, and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at U of T’s Rotman School of Management.
As a longtime volunteer for the University of Toronto, what inspired you to get involved?
I credit my volunteer career with U of T entirely to Professor Doug Reeve, who asked me to be part of his inaugural advisory board when he became the chair of chemical engineering in 2001. I almost told him that I thought he had called the wrong person with the invitation because it was early in my legal career and I wasn’t sure what I could contribute to the board. But there was a voice inside me that said, ‘go for it, Claire,’ and I’m so glad I did. It was one of the best invitations that I’ve ever accepted.
I went on to chair that advisory board, which led to me joining the Engineering Alumni Association and becoming President, following which I was appointed to Governing Council. I served nine years on Governing Council, the last four as Chair, concluding my term on June 30, 2021. When President Gertler asked me if I would co-chair this campaign, it was a very easy ‘yes.’ I’m super excited to have the opportunity to continue to serve U of T.
Why do you think the world needs U of T right now?
U of T does excellence and accessibility at scale. U of T excels in an astonishing breadth of subjects and domains —from STEM to the arts and humanities to the full panoply of medical sciences and professional programs. The U of T community can and does make an impact on pressing issues facing the world in virtually every area of study. Couple that with our unwavering commitment to accessibility and you have a powerful driver of inclusive prosperity. U of T is a public university whose peers are the world’s top private universities and that’s remarkable!