Brescia University College appoints community leader as inaugural Chancellor

February 15, 2013

London, ON – The Council of Trustees of Brescia University College, Canada’s only all women’s university, has approved the establishment of the role of Chancellor for Brescia and has appointed an empowered and empowering female leader to this role. Effective July 1, 2013, Dr. Joan Francolini will commence the inaugural four-year term in this honorary position, serving as an ambassador for Brescia and positive example of strong leadership to the Brescia community. Since her graduation from Brescia and Western University in 1955, Joan has served in countless community roles and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Order of Ontario, the YMCA’s Women of Excellence Award and, in 2012, an Honorary Doctorate from Western University.

In acknowledgement of this historic appointment, Brescia Principal Dr. Colleen Hanycz notes, “We are delighted that Joan has accepted this appointment and we know that her service in this new role will enrich Brescia by setting a strong example of service leadership for our students, our employees, our alumnae and Joan’s fellow citizens. Joan’s passionate engagement in city and university life and her generous giving of time, talent, and treasure have enhanced life in London and the wider community for decades. Brescia is again blessed by Joan in her willingness to continue her service to Brescia and to post-secondary education in this way.”

While raising six children with her husband Geno – all community leaders in their own right – Joan volunteered for many organizations, including the London Community Foundation, the YMCA, and the United Way of London and Middlesex. In addition, she is committed to supporting health care and has served on the Medical Advisory Committee at Western, the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital Board, the Tillsonburg Hospital Auxiliary, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Ontario Hospital Association, and the Board of St. Joseph’s Health Care. She has just concluded a term on the Selection Committee for the Order of Ontario.

Joan was the first Executive Director of The Lawson Foundation, serving from 1992 to 2001 and at Western she was recognized with the Dr. Ivan Smith Alumni Award of Merit, the highest honour that a Western graduate can receive for sustained and significant contribution to Western and to society.

In her capacity as Chancellor, Dr. Francolini will preside over Brescia’s annual Baccalaureate and Magisterial Exercises and will serve as an honorary Trustee of the Brescia University College Council of Trustees in addition to continuing her role as an engaged and active member of the Brescia community.

Liz Hewitt, Co-ordinator of the Council of Trustees at Brescia, says of this appointment,“The Council is very pleased to have established the role of Chancellor at Brescia as it provides another opportunity to highlight women’s leadership in this country. The fact that Dr. Francolini is willing to serve in this role serves to further establish Brescia as an institution committed to service and leadership, and there is no better choice to set that example for our students than Dr. Francolini.”

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For more information please contact Colleen Aguilar, Communications, Marketing & External Relations Officer, at 519.432.8353, ext. 28280

Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,275 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more current and archived news, a listing of faculty experts, and photos please visit our Online Media Room at