B.C.'s halls of higher learning have long been a bastion of influential women. According to UBC's website, its first graduate degree in arts and science went to Ruth Vivian Fulton in 1919 for her study "on the separation of manganese from iron by phenyl-nitroso-hydroxylamine ammonium".
Six of the first 10 master's degrees at UBC were granted to women and in 1921, UBC's Mary Louise Bollert became the first dean of women in Canada. And Gloria Cranmer Webster became UBC's first indigenous student in 1949, graduating with a degree in anthropology.
Did you know that four public postsecondary institutions in the Lower Mainland have female presidents? Three made our list of the 10 most influential women administrators at public universities, colleges, and institutes in Metro Vancouver.
The list was prepared in advance of International Women's Day, which is celebrated around the world on Tuesday (March 8).
1. Martha Piper (UBC)
As the interim president of UBC, Piper has to clean up the mess left by the sudden resignation of Arvind Gupta in August 2015. She was one of UBC's most successful presidents from 1997 to 2006, leveraging significant amounts of funding from the then Liberal federal government and the private sector. The money that flowed in elevated UBC's international status as a research university. Piper was born in Ohio, making her the first UBC president who was an immigrant, and obtained a PhD in epidemiology and biostatistics from McGill University.
2. Joy Johnson (SFU)
In 2014, Simon Fraser University lured Johnson from UBC to become the new vice president of research. She was a nursing professor and scientific director of the Institute of Gender and Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. And her move to SFU signalled that the university will continue expanding its research in the health field and other areas. The institution already has some globally recognized health researchers —including Julian Somers and Bruce Lanphear, as well as engineering science professor Ryan D'Arcy. Johnson is an expert in sex and gender issues as they pertain to health. She’s leading a multiyear research project on the use of cannabis by young people.
3. Kathy Kinloch (BCIT)
As president of the B.C. Institute of Technology, Kinloch heads a school with 48,000 full-time and part-time students on five main campuses. Prior to being appointed to lead the school, she was president of Vancouver Community College, and before that, she was dean of BCIT's school of health sciences. BCIT has developed an excellent reputation with employers and the B.C. government and has trained some of the province’s top entrepreneurs, marketers, and broadcasters.
4. Louise Cowin (UBC)
She's UBC's vice president, students, which gives her responsibility for student housing and hospitality services, athletics and recreation, and student development. At times, she pops up in the news in connection with stories that affect student life, such as a cluster of six sexual assaults on the Point Grey campus in 2013. More recently, she came under fire when current and former graduate students criticized the university's slow response to complaints that a male PhD student was a serial sex abuser. Cowin has a big job: there are nearly 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at UBC's Vancouver and Okanagan campuses, making it the second-largest university in Canada. Like the interim UBC president, Cowin obtained her PhD from McGill University, specializing in educational studies.
5. Kathy Denton (Douglas College)
With a PhD in psychology from the University of Western Ontario, Denton started working at Douglas College in 1993 as a faculty member. From there, she rose through the ranks to become chair of psychology, dean of humanities and social sciences, and then vice president academic and provost before being appointed president last year. Douglas College has 14,000 students enrolled in for-credit courses and nearly 10,000 others who take short-term noncredit courses at its campuses in New Westminster and Coquitlam, as well as at its training centre in Surrey. The college has distinguished itself for its career training, including its highly regarded bachelor of business administration program.
6. Shauna Sylvester (SFU)
A long-time advocate for the environment and international peace, Sylvester became director of SFU's Centre for Dialogue in 2014. In her previous role as executive director of SFU Public Square, Sylvester played a pivotal role in SFU living up to its brand as Canada's most community-engaged research university. Sylvester founded Carbon Talks and launched Renewable Cities, which has stimulated global interest in the movement to go to 100 percent renewable energy. She has also played a key role in SFU's annual community summits, which have focused the attention of researchers and the community on such important issues as the economy, social isolation, and the health of cities. By engaging SFU’s 30,000 students at the Burnaby, Vancouver, and Surrey campuses, Sylvester’s impact will likely be felt for years to come.
7. Catherine Dauvergne (UBC)
As dean of the Peter A. Allard School of Law at UBC, Dauvergne plays a major role in the education of future generations of lawyers and judges. She's an expert in immigration and refugee law and heads one of the country's most progressive law schools. It has a strong focus on indigenous legal education and has long been a leader in international law and advancing greater appreciation for the legal rights of the LGBTQ community. Dauvergne clerked for former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Antonio Lamer, who wrote many landmark decisions, including the Delgamuukw ruling that recognized the existence of aboriginal title post-Confederation.
8. Moura Quayle (UBC)
Quayle has been one of B.C.'s most influential university administrators for many years. She previously served as dean of UBC's faculty of land and food systems, which has played a key role in promoting greater appreciation for preserving agricultural land. She also helped reorganize UBC's Okanagan campus and has been a deputy minister of advanced education. She's now director of the UBC Liu Institute for Global Issues, which investigates policies and actions to promote sustainability, security, and social justice.
9. Jane Fee (KPU)
The former SFU associate dean of arts and social sciences is the highest-ranking administrator at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. She's deputy provost and vice provost for KPU's 20,000 students at its Surrey, Richmond, Langley, and Cloverdale campuses. The Surrey native told Business in Vancouver last year that she obtained a PhD from UBC in linguistics while raising two preschool children.
10. Bonne Zabolotney (ECUAD)
The vice president academic and provost at Emily Carr University of Art + Design has deep ties with the Vancouver arts community, having worked with such organizations as Vancouver Opera, TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival Society, and the Vancouver Recital Society. An expert in typography, some of her stamp designs are in Canada's National Archives, including one recognizing the formation of Nunavut. Zabolotney was appointed to her position less than a year ago but has been with the institution since 2001 in a variety of roles, including as dean of design and dynamic media and dean of graduate studies. As Emily Carr prepares to move to its new campus on Great Northern Way, her responsibilities, as well as her profile, are certain to increase.
Two college board chairs and one chancellor are women
The only university president who didn't make our Top 10 list is Kris Bulcroft, who will retire this year after nearly six years at the helm of Capliano University. Since being appointed in 2010, Bulcroft has faced tough challenges, including a strike by faculty and controversial cutbacks to arts programs. On the upside, her tenure was also marked by the opening of an aboriginal gathering space, the Bosa Centre for Film and Animation, and the Centre for International Experience. A Fulbright Canada scholar, Bulcroft received her PhD from the University of Manitoba.
Meanwhile, there are two women chairing public postsecondary-institution boards of directors in the Lower Mainland. Pamela Ryan, managing partner of Lucent Quay Consulting Inc., will complete her term chairing Vancouver Community College’s board of governors on July 31. The Douglas College board of directors is chaired by Shelley Williams, who's also vice president and corporate treasurer at Finning International.
Meanwhile, SFU has a female chancellor. Anne Giardini, an author and lawyer, became the 11th person to be named to this position in 2014. This means that the former president of Weyerhaeuser Company’s Canadian forestry subsidiary is technically the leader, though day-to-day power rests in the office of the president and vice chancellor, Andrew Petter. As chancellor, Giardini can influence public policies, serve as the conscience of the university, and act as a liaison with government officials in their dealings with B.C’s second-largest university.