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Jim Leech is the President and CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

Jim Leech is replacing David Dodge as chancellor of Queen's University, becoming the university's highest officer and its ceremonial head.

Mr. Leech, who has announced plans to retire as CEO of the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan in January, will begin his three-year term next July after Mr. Dodge departs. The former governor of the Bank of Canada has been chancellor since 2008, but said in June he would not serve another term.

Queen's, based in Kingston, Ont., has a tradition of appointing prominent leaders in business and politics as its chancellor, which is a position first created in 1874. Prior chancellors have included railway engineer Sanford Fleming, former prime minister Robert Borden, former governor general Roland Michener and former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed.

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Chancellors have ceremonial roles to preside over convocations and confer degrees upon students, but also chair the annual meetings of the University Council, which oversees university affairs. In addition, they serve as voting members of the university's board of trustees, which oversees the university's operations.

Mr. Leech is a Queen's alumni, earning an MBA in 1973. He currently chairs the business school's advisory board, and from 1984 to 1996 was a member of the university's board of trustees. He was on the University Council from 1980 to 1984.

In an interview Friday as he headed into a meeting of the university's council to give an acceptance speech, Mr. Leech said Queen's has always had a special place in his heart ever since he father served as the university's registrar after retiring from a career in the armed forces.

"He had no connection to Queen's and the culture, and how well he was accepted gives it a warm place in my heart," Mr. Leech said. "I've been involved in the governance around the university for a number of years and have enjoyed it and got a lot out of it, but I also have this heritage that tugs at my heart strings."

He added it is flattering to "have your name mentioned in the same breath" as the prominent people who have previously served as chancellor.

Queen's principal Daniel Woolf, who headed the committee that led the search for a new chancellor, said Mr. Leech is an accomplished business leader with "a long history of service to the university."

"Queen's will benefit immensely from his extensive experience," Mr. Woolf said in a statement.

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