The University of Calgary has selected former Calgary Stampeders running back Jon Cornish as the 15th chancellor, taking over from journalist Deborah Yedlin.
A volunteer position, the chancellor is the ceremonial non-resident head of the university, responsible for presiding over the institution’s senate, presiding over degree conferrals and serving as an ambassador to advance the university’s vision.
“It is the greatest honour of my life,” said Cornish in a statement. “In serving the students, alumni, staff, volunteers and faculty of the university, and the city of Calgary, I will champion the values of safety, inclusivity and achievement, helping make our great university the best in Canada.”
A native of Burnaby, B.C., Cornish spent nine seasons with the Calgary Stampeders after being selected 13th overall in the second round of the 2006 CFL Draft out of the University of Kansas.
The Canadian running back finished his career as the fourth-leading rusher in Stampeders history with 6,844 yards on 1,026 carries, an average of 6.7 yards per carry, and 44 touchdowns along with 1,666 receiving yards and nine touchdowns and 8,510 total yards from scrimmage.
Cornish was recognized as the CFL’s Most Outstanding Player in 2013 and won three consecutive Most Outstanding Canadian Awards from 2012 to 2014 along with two Grey Cups 2008 and 2014. He was selected as a CFL all-star three straight years from 2012 to 2014 and led the CFL in rushing in each of those seasons. Cornish received the Lou Marsh Award in 2013 as Canada’s Male Athlete of the Year and was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2019.
Since his retirement from football, Cornish has dedicated himself to his new career as an investment advisor and many charitable initiatives. He is the founder and president of the Calgary Black Chambers which has to date provided more than $60,000 in scholarships to help university students and supported 300 high school students with skill training to aid in their careers.
Cornish has been a champion for LGBTQ2S+ communities by encouraging sports organizations to ensure all athletes feel safe playing through the You Can Play Project. He can also be found MC’ing events at the Alberta Children’s Hospital, working directly with at-risk youth for Wood’s Homes, or waving the flag to rally the fans at home games.
“He’s no stranger to our great campus community,” said university president Ed McCauley. “His entrepreneurial spirit and drive to better our community will make him a strong ambassador for the university, our values and an inspiration for future alumni.”
Cornish was elected in a vote on April 21 and will officially assume the position on July 1.