Watsa named Huron’s first-ever chancellor

By Paul Mayne


Canadian business icon Prem Watsa, MBA’74, LLD’12, has been named the first-ever Chancellor of Huron University College. The Chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holding Ltd. was selected by Huron’s Board of Governors last month.

“We are building something new at Huron – an education that cares about our student’s characters as well as their minds,” said Huron Principal Barry Craig. “Prem Watsa is a true leader with heart. As Chancellor, he will exemplify Huron’s commitment to ethical leadership.”

Often referred to as ‘The Warren Buffet of Canada,’ Watsa was born in Hyderabad, India, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology in 1971. He moved to Canada and completed an MBA at the Ivey Business School before beginning his professional career at Confederation Life Insurance Co. in Toronto.

In 1985, he took control of Markel Financial Holdings Ltd, a small Canadian trucking insurance company on the verge of bankruptcy. He re-organized and renamed the company Fairfax, short for “fair and friendly acquisitions.” The company reached annual revenues of $10 billion in 2014.

Watsa’s business success is attributed to the persistence and refusal to compromise on his vision of building a company that values integrity, fortitude and excellence. He looks forward to being part of the Huron family.

“Our society needs leaders with great minds and great hearts,” Watsa said. “That’s what Huron University College is committed to developing. I am proud to have been elected as Huron’s Chancellor.”

Ian Jeffreys, Huron Board Chair, says Watsa exemplifies what “a true pioneer, team player and trailblazer” looks like, thus making the iconic Canadian businessman a prime example for students.

“Through working hard and dreaming big, Prem has proven that with passion and a good education, a person’s opportunities are limitless,” Jeffreys said. “This is exactly the mindset that Huron students develop as the university creates the best environment for students to grow into Leaders with Heart.”