Harvey Secter, University of Manitoba alumni and dean emeritus of the university’s Robson Hall faculty of law, was re-elected as chancellor of the university on Feb. 3 and will have completed nine years in the position by the end of his term in 2019.
The 72-year-old Secter was re-elected by the university’s committee of election, the body that chooses the U of M chancellor. The committee is made up of all members of the university’s board of governors and senate.
Secter began as a commerce student at the U of M in 1961, eventually graduating with a bachelor of commerce degree in 1967.
After graduation, Secter went into business as part of the family retail outlet Ricki’s Canada Limited until years later, in 1988, when he enrolled again as a student in the faculty of law at the U of M.
Graduating from law in 1992, Secter eventually pursued a master’s degree in law at Harvard University before returning to Winnipeg in 1995.
Back at home, Secter worked as a sessional instructor at the U of M but quickly climbed the ladder and, within years, became the dean of the faculty of law. Secter stayed at his post for nearly a decade, retiring in 2008.
However, the university hadn’t had enough of him just yet. Shortly after his retirement, Secter received a call from the administration requesting him to attend a meeting.
Knowing the chancellor at the time had recently stepped down, Secter talks of how he started thinking of names to suggest for election at the meeting. Little did he know he was the university was seeking.
In January 2010, Secter began his term as chancellor of the University of Manitoba.
Secter told the Manitoban that there are three major functions the chancellor plays – the ceremonial, the internal, and the external.
The chancellor plays a ceremonial role through attending convocation and fulfilling various time-honoured traditions at the university. Internally, the chancellor sits on various boards and committees and therefore has a great deal of influence on the actions of the university. This manifests itself through the chancellor’s position as a member of the board of governors and the senate, as well as the chair of various committees.
Finally, the chancellor acts as a spokesperson for the university, lobbying on its behalf to various interest groups and the government.
Secter told the Manitoban that he is very proud of some of the major accomplishments of the university, including the Taché Hall renovations and the ongoing development plan for the Southwood lands.
Yet Secter’s heart really lies in the work he does to help realize the potential in students. He said that attending convocations allows him to see the truly profound impact the university has on the lives of what he calls the province’s future professionals.
“These people are going to have the opportunities that are part and parcel to the evolution of the next generation of citizenry,” Secter said. “We forget just how much of a difference [the university] makes for people.
“We don’t appreciate just how vast the reach of the university is. There are people all over the province, all over the country, whose lives have been changed because of it.”
A self-proclaimed advocate for community involvement, Secter said he looks forward his next three years as chancellor.
“I would consider it to be one of the best volunteer positions that there is,” he said.