Alumnus Terry Whitehead named University of Lethbridge’s 15th chancellor

Terry Whitehead (BA ’94), one of the University of Lethbridge’s most engaged and impassioned alumni, has been elected by the ULethbridge Senate as the institution’s 15th chancellor. It is just the second time in the 56-year history of the school that an alumnus will occupy the role.

Currently a managing partner of a Vancouver-based executive search and management consulting firm, Whitehead has served on the ULethbridge Board of Governors and been a champion of multiple initiatives over the years through his philanthropic support of the arts, Pronghorn Athletics and student food security issues.

Terry Whitehead is one of ULethbridge’s most engaged and impassioned alumni.

“When you think of the chancellor’s role and their relationship to the University, you can’t help but see Terry as an absolutely perfect fit,” says Dr. Mike Mahon, ULethbridge president and vice-chancellor. “He has long been one of the University’s greatest advocates and his support is tangible in the ways he has affected the lives of our students through the many awards and prizes he has created over the years. I’m excited to see what he will do in this new role and how he will continue to raise the profile of our University.”

Whitehead views the chancellor position as an opportunity to take his work with the University to another level. Already the philanthropic impetus behind the creation of such initiatives as the Bridge Prize (Canada’s only national short story writing contest for post-secondary students), the Play Right Prize (annual student one-act playwriting competition), HistoriCity (annual student historical essay competition), the Pronghorn Citizenship Award, and most recently the Spirit Prize (annual award recognizing excellence in visual arts by an Indigenous student), Whitehead says his connection to ULethbridge is a sincere recognition of how his time as a student shaped his future career and opened his world view.

“This is a fantastic institution, and I have such wonderful memories and am deeply appreciative of my time here as a student,” he says. “Coming here really changed my perspective on everything, changed my worldview. I’m so grateful for the liberal education experience — it really inspired my curiosity for and gave me the critical thinking skills to apply to the bigger world.”

The chancellor’s primary responsibilities are to chair the University Senate and preside over convocation ceremonies. ULethbridge chancellors have also used the role as an opportunity to champion key initiatives in support of students and the student experience. Outgoing chancellor Charles Weaselhead was instrumental in his support of inclusivity and indigineity on campus while his predecessor, Janice Varzari (BN ’90, MEd ’02), was a strong advocate for energizing the vast ULethbridge alumni base as well as student mental health and wellness initiatives.

“An issue of real importance and concern for me is sustainable food security for our students,” says Whitehead, who is also one of the four recently named co-chairs of the current fundraising campaign for student scholarships. “This romanticized image of the starving student as some important rite of passage into adulthood is just so wrong. Students can’t study or write papers if they are hungry, so working with the Ulethbridge community to address this issue is one area I’d like to focus on during my term.”

Whitehead found early in his time as a ULethbridge student how important it was to engage with the opportunities available on campus. He dove right in, serving on Students’ Union council, writing as Sports Editor for the Meliorist, acting in fine arts dramatic productions, attending Pronghorns games and basically immersing himself in the campus lifestyle.

“You arrive on campus, and the world just opens up for you. You might come in thinking you’re going to do this one thing and then you discover there are so many other opportunities to explore, and you gain confidence and just run with it,” he says. “I recall attending student plays, art exhibitions and grad recitals for music students and being blown away by the talent. Those experiences really ignited an appreciation for the talented artists who attend our campus and the outstanding faculty who inspire them. You go to a Horns game or a concert or a play and you just dive into the student experience and it’s intoxicating.”

Kairvee Bhatt, Students’ Union president, has worked with Whitehead in his role as a board of governors’ member and respects his dedication to ULethbridge.

“Terry is just the embodiment of the University of Lethbridge spirit,” she says. “He’s someone who has a continual commitment to the University, to its students, alumni and the community beyond.”

Whitehead will be officially installed as chancellor at the University’s Spring Convocation ceremony to be held June 1-2, 2023. He will also host his first Chancellor’s Dinner on the evening of June 1.

Check out the chancellor's web page for more.