The University of Calgary is a young, ambitious and innovative university. Since it was granted autonomy in 1966, the University of Calgary has been led by seven presidents who have propelled the university forward with a momentum built from each other's strengths, visions and successes.
Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is the eighth president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. As the leader of one of Canada’s top research universities, she is a passionate advocate of higher education to drive innovation, leadership and community engagement.
Prior to her appointment as president, Dr. Cannon was dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. She propelled the school into the top ranks of engineering schools by leading the development of interdisciplinary research programs, student leadership opportunities, and a community-endorsed five-year strategic plan. Today, graduates of the Schulich School of Engineering are particularly sought after by industry, not-for-profit organizations and government agencies.
Since her installation in July 2010, Dr. Cannon has committed the university to the goal of becoming one of Canada’s top research universities, fully engaged with the communities we both serve and lead. Her tenure to date features numerous important milestones, including the launch of the university’s Eyes High strategic vision, the largest private donation to the Cumming School of Medicine, the launch of the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning, a pioneering Campus Mental Health Strategy, and enhanced research capacity, raising the university to 6th place in Canada for research funding.
Dr. Cannon is a Professional Engineer, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, and an elected foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering. She currently serves as the Chair of Universities Canada, Vice Chair of the Business-Higher Education Roundtable and a member of the Board of Governors of the Sidra Research and Medical Center in Qatar.
As an expert in geomatics engineering, Dr. Cannon has led research at the forefront of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) since 1984 and she has commercialized technology to over 200 agencies worldwide. Dr. Cannon’s work has been recognized with many accolades, including the Johannes Kepler Award from the U.S. Institute of Navigation, APEGA’s Centennial Leadership Award, the Gold Medal Award from Engineers Canada in 2013, and the NSERC E.W.R Steacie Fellowship from 2002 to 2004. She has served on the National Advisory Board on Earth Sciences to the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, as past president of the U.S. Institute of Navigation, and as a past director of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.
Throughout her career, Dr. Cannon has championed women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). From 1997 to 2002, she held the NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the Prairie Region. In this capacity, she worked to raise public awareness about science and engineering careers for women, and conducted research exploring which factors influence men and women to select these careers. She also developed several innovative programs to encourage women to explore careers in STEM fields, including the largest online mentorship program of its kind in Canada, Cybermentor.
In 1998, Dr. Cannon was selected as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40®, and in 2006 she was named as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. During her years as a professor at the Schulich School of Engineering, Dr. Cannon won numerous teaching and research awards, and she takes great pride in following the success stories of the many graduate students she has mentored and trained.
Dr. Cannon holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in mathematics from Acadia University, as well as a BSc, MSc and PhD in geomatics engineering from the University of Calgary. She has received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Ottawa, Acadia University and the Université de Montréal. Born and raised in Prince Edward Island, Dr. Cannon was a student-athlete who competed as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) swimmer during her undergraduate career. She is married to professor emeritus of geomatics engineering, Dr. Gérard Lachapelle, and has two children.