Dr. Marsha Hanen, C.M., Ph.D.

(1936-2019)

Marsha Hanen, distinguished academic and Member of the Order of Canada, was the first woman to serve as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Winnipeg and, in 1989, one of the first two women to be university presidents anywhere in the country.

A strong believer in the importance of multidisciplinary liberal arts and science education at the undergraduate level, Hanen inspired much innovation to this end at the university. Her consultative style of leadership, along with her keen attention to detail, enabled her to steer the university deftly through a decade of change.

She left an indelible mark on the University of Winnipeg and beyond, inspiring many women in education, motivating attitudinal change across genders, and encouraging intelligent innovation among academics, business leaders and lawmakers.

In her role as president, Hanen was instrumental in the advancement of the university’s growth and development strategy and oversaw the development and enactment of the university’s first real strategic plan. One of her most notable accomplishments was the passing of The University of Winnipeg Act, a fundamental piece of enabling legislation, an aspiration of the university’s since its creation in 1967.

Her championing and establishing an innovative, full-time bachelor of education program, with a focus on preparation for inner-city teaching, has left a broad impact on education in Manitoba.

She contributed to the opening of the Bulman Student Centre and the acclaimed Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall, one of Canada’s premium chamber music concert halls.
Hanen also played an instrumental role in having Spence Street, between Ellice and Portage, closed to traffic, now named Marsha Hanen Way, and in the acquisition of the former Salvation Army Citadel on Balmoral, which was transformed into the the University of Winnipeg’s theatre and film department.

The Marsha Hanen Award for Excellence in Creating Community Awareness, was established in 2000 to recognize her community commitment, and is awarded to faculty and staff who reinforce the value of a liberal education and expanded understanding of, and respect for, the university. The award is funded by the Toronto-Dominion Bank in her honour.

With a generous donation, Hanen also personally established the Marsha Hanen Global Ethics and Dialogue Fund in 2007 to help support faculty members in their research on pressing issues such as ethics, human rights, freedom of expression and the impacts of science and technology. As well, she established the Marsha P. Hanen Entrance Scholarship (2015) with very generous donations to the scholarship and bursaries fund established by The University of Winnipeg Retirees Association.

Hanen generously contributed to many other Manitoba institutions, including the Manitoba Museum. CancerCare Manitoba has also named a room after her.

Hanen’s reputation extends beyond Manitoba’s borders. Throughout her career, she had a broad and deep interest in ethics, the philosophy of science and of law.

Hanen’s exemplary work has earned her many grants, awards and honours. With her distinguished academic credentials and her consultative, inclusive, yet decisive style as a leader, Marsha Hanen was recognized as a true trailblazer.

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