M. Elizabeth Cannon

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M. Elizabeth Cannon
President of the University of Calgary
Assumed office
July 1, 2010
Preceded by Harvey Weingarten
Personal details
Born Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
Alma mater Acadia University
University of Calgary
Occupation geomatics engineer

M. Elizabeth Cannon, FRSC, is a Canadian Geomatics Engineer and current President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Calgary.


Dr. Elizabeth Cannon is the 1st president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. As the leader of one of Canada’s top research universities, she is a passionate advocate for the importance of higher education in driving discovery and innovation, finding solutions for the world’s greatest challenges, and fostering the talents of the young women and men who will become our future leaders.

In her first year as president, Dr. Cannon launched the most extensive consultation process undertaken in the history of the University of Calgary. The goal of this consultation was to develop a road map for the future, based on a shared vision and dream of what the university could be to the city, the country and the world. The resulting Eyes High strategic direction, and supporting Academic and Research Plans, outline a bold vision of a truly great internationally recognized research university that will be ranked among the top five in Canada by its 50th anniversary in 2016.

An expert in geomatics engineering and Professional Engineer, Dr. Cannon’s research has been on the forefront of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) since 1984 in both industrial and academic environments, and she has commercialized technology to over 200 agencies worldwide. Dr. Cannon’s work has been recognized with many national and international honours including the Johannes Kepler Award from the U.S. Institute of Navigation, APEGA’s Centennial Leadership Award and the Gold Medal Award from Engineers Canada in 2013. She has served on the National Advisory Board on Earth Sciences to the Canadian Minister of Natural Resources, is past-president of the U.S. Institute of Navigation and was a director of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Canadian Academy of Engineering and the U.S. Institute of Navigation, as well as an elected foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering. Currently, she serves as the Chair of the Canada Research Knowledge Network, Chair of Universities Canada, a member of the U15 Group of Canadian Universities, as well as a member of the federal Minister of Industry’s Science, Technology and Innovation Council.

Prior to her appointment as president, Dr. Cannon was dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. She propelled the school into the top ranks of engineering schools, leading the development of interdisciplinary research programs, enriching student leadership programs, and developing a community-endorsed five-year strategic plan. She leveraged her extensive network of stakeholders in business, industry and the community to expand external funding for student activities. Today, graduates of the Schulich School of Engineering are sought after by business, industry and governments both in Canada and around the world.

Throughout her career, Dr. Cannon championed women in non-traditional areas and worked to ensure that women receive opportunities to excel, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas. From 1997 to 2002, she held the NSERC/Petro-Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for the Prairie Region. In this capacity, she worked to raise public awareness about science and engineering careers for women, and conducted research exploring which factors influence men and women to select these careers. She also developed several innovative programs, including Cybermentor and Explore IT, to encourage women to explore careers in STEM fields.

In 1998, Dr. Cannon was selected as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and in 2006 was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network. During her years as a professor at the Schulich School of Engineering, she won numerous teaching and research awards, and still takes great pride in following the success stories of the many graduate students she mentored and trained.

Cannon graduated from Acadia University with a B.Sc. in Mathematics and Computer Science in 1982, followed by a B.Sc in Geomatics Engineering from the University of Calgary in 1984, her M.Sc. in 1987, and a PhD in Geomatics Engineering in 1991.[1] She is married to Gérard Lachapelle, and currently lives in Calgary, Alberta with two children, Sara Lachapelle and René Lachapelle.[2]

After teaching at the University of Calgary from 1985 to 2005, and becoming the head of the Geomatics Engineering Department, Cannon became the dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. In 2005, she was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.[3]

In 2004, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.[4] And in 2000, she was elected to Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.[5][6]

She was the founder of Cybermentor, an online mentoring program for girls in science and engineering. She was also one of the founders of ExploreIT, a program to encourage girls to explore careers in computer-related professions.

On July 1, 2010, Cannon became the president of the University of Calgary, the first female to do so.[7] On April 18, 2014 Elizabeth Cannon was reappointed to a second term as president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary, through to June 30, 2020.[8]

Under President Cannon’s leadership the University of Calgary has been ranked the top young university in Canada for four consecutive years, and in 2015 was ranked the number one young university in North America.[9]