Susan Mumm

New Brescia principal finds right fit

By 
  • February 28, 2016

When Brescia University College contacted Susan Mumm, they made her an offer she couldn’t refuse.

“They’ve invited me to join them on their journey,” said Mumm, a historian specializing in women and religion who will be taking over as principal of Canada’s only all-female university in July. “Its women’s focus aligns so perfectly with my own research and background. I couldn’t say no, it was just an irresistible combination.”

Founded in 1919 by the Ursuline Sisters, Brescia is an affiliate of Western University in London, Ont.

Along with being well suited academically for the post, Mumm also comes with experience. She was a lecturer and depar

tment head while in England at The Open University, a pro vicechancellor from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Massey University in New Zealand and also dean of arts and sciences at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., where she’s been since 2013.

A sheep farmer’s daughter, Mumm studied British history in her home province at the University of Saskatchewan. She also spent time at the University of Sussex in England as commonwealth scholar, is a fellow of the Royal Historic Society and is currently working on her fourth book.

Mumm’s well-balanced resume of academic and administrative experience made the 55-year-old the ideal candidate to be Brescia’s 12th principal, said Larry MacKinnon, chair of the school’s board of trustees.

“Her proven leadership as an effective university administrator and her outstanding academic achievement make her the ideal person to lead Brescia University College as it continues to grow in size and stature,” he said.

Along with increasing enrolment and recognition of the school’s reputation, Mumm intends to keep an emphasis on the student experience, a defining characteristic of Brescia, she said.

“It is a place that, because of the Ursuline tradition, still places a high value on community and developing the whole person and not just the intellect of the student,” she said. “Something that everybody at Brescia works on is creating a model of leadership for young women that is both powerful and compassionate at the same time. That’s what other universities aren’t getting. They’re working on the leadership but they’re not working on the values nearly as much.”

Excited as she may be about her future role, leaving Queen’s stirs up some sadness from colleagues there.

“She has accomplished a great deal since taking up her appointment as dean,” said Alan Harrison, Queen’s provost and academic vice-principal. “She will be sorely missed. Sorry though I am to lose Susan, I offer her my sincerest congratulations on her new role which I know she will fill with considerable distinction.”

Moving on from Queen’s is also tugging at Mumm’s heart, but not enough to hold her back from Brescia.

“My heart is breaking at the same time that I’m really excited about coming to Brescia because Queen’s is a wonderful place to work, with fantastic people working here,” she said. “But sometimes fate calls you up and says you’ve got to do this.”

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