Debra Deane Little’s five-year term as 15th Chancellor of the University of King’s College began on February 4, 2020, but it was only with the fall 2021 return to campus and the easing of pandemic restrictions that a ceremony to install the Chancellor became possible.
The celebratory event took place in Alumni Hall, Monday October 25, with an audience of students and alumni, faculty, staff, well-wishers and special guests from throughout the community. In remarks delivered after she took the oath of office, the Chancellor described getting to know the university as a parent and praised the King’s community as one “that cultivates the mind and the capacity to care, to care for one another and for things larger than ourselves.” Observing that “we are surrounded and blessed by a new generation of leaders determined to shape a better world,” Deane Little’s admiration for young people was unmistakeable. She also expressed the honour she feels to be the first woman to hold King’s highest office, saying that she knows she is “the first of many women who will serve the university in this role.” Read her full remarks [PDF].
President Lahey praised Deane Little’s ‘capacity to care,’ as he described the Chancellor as someone who “has led a life of dedication to others and of committed service to her community.”
Born in Toronto and raised in London, Ont., Deane Little attended the University of Windsor, where she earned a BA, BEd and MA degrees. King’s 15th Chancellor is a community leader, volunteer and philanthropist whose generosity has benefitted dozens of young people at King’s and in Windsor, Ont. where she lives. Deane Little and her husband Robert Little have designated King’s one of two primary beneficiaries of their Alpha Aquilae Foundation and through this relationship created the Debra Deane Little and Robert Little Academic Scholarships for Varsity Athletes. Fourteen of these four-year entrance scholarships are awarded each year and additional scholarships of shorter duration are awarded to students who excel at King’s. In October of 2020 the Alpha Aquilae Foundation gave a $2 million gift that paved the way for the comprehensive restoration of three of King’s five historic student residences, known as “bays.”
Public Orator Dr. Peter O’Brien, highlighted the symbolism of the name “Alpha Aquilae.” Noting that this is the Latin name for the brightest star in the Alpha constellation, O’Brien remarked on the star’s “metaphorical power to enrich and improve lives.” Connecting this to the significant impact the Foundation’s gifts have had at King’s, O’Brien said the Chancellor and Mr. Little have “made the aspirational actual in our galaxy.” Read the full citation [PDF].
O’Brien presented Deane Little to The Right Reverend Sandra Fyfe, Diocesan Bishop of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island who, as Visitor, presided over the ceremony. Bishop Fyfe stood witness as the Chancellor took the oath of office articulating her commitment to the university.
Greetings were delivered to the Chancellor by representatives from all constituent groups within the College. Dalhousie University’s Provost, Dr. Frank Harvey, delivered remarks and greetings on behalf of President Deep Saini. Clerk of Convocation Dr. Thomas Curran shared well wishes sent by additional universities from across the country, including Simon Fraser University and the University of Ottawa.
Maritime Brass played fanfare and processional music throughout the Installation that included works by Susato, Korngold and Duka. Member of staff Chelsi Walsh, a trained opera singer, performed the aria Chacun le sait by Donizetti. Introduced by Dr. Curran as “a toast,” the aria preceded the benediction that closed the Installation and gave rise to a joyful atmosphere in Alumni Hall and its foyer as the community welcomed its 15th Chancellor in person and gathered for a reception. A formal dinner for 24 guests followed in the King’s boardroom.