Ian Orchard

Ian Orchard
Place of Birth: 
Walsall, England
First Year Employed at UTM/U of T: 
Department / Division: 

Everything we did was driven by excellence. Our goal was to recruit the best faculty, staff and students and provide them with the appropriate facilities. If individuals succeed, the campus as a whole succeeds.

Ian Orchard

Returning to his research lab full time after serving two terms as vice-president of the University of Toronto and principal of U of T Mississauga left Ian Orchard, Distinguished University Professor of Biology, feeling restless. Consequently, when he was approached about serving as vice-president (academic) and provost at the University of Waterloo, he retired after 32 years at U of T to accept the position. As a professor emeritus, Orchard has the privilege of continuing his research at UTM, so he continues to have a foot in both of his favourite worlds: administration and lab research.

“Research isn’t work,” Orchard says of his neuroscientific explorations of the insect nervous system. “It’s invigorating and part of my life’s blood. I enjoy it.” Orchard was part of a consortium that sequenced the genome of the kissing bug, the insect that causes deadly Chagas disease in Central and South America. His basic research has laid the groundwork for a chemical solution to the insect’s devastation.

Orchard initially immigrated to Canada in 1977 to York University under a grant to establish a federal centre of excellence in neurobiology. He joined U of T in 1982. Soon, he found himself being wooed for administrative positions.

Orchard served as associate dean (sciences) in the Faculty of Arts and Science (1993-97); vice-dean in the Faculty of Arts and Science (1997-98); and vice-provost (students) (1998-2002) before becoming the vice-president of the University of Toronto and principal of UTM from 2002-2010. 

He joined UTM at a time when the university was undergoing organizational structural change. Orchard was instrumental in overseeing UTM’s shift from governance by the Faculty of Arts and Science to a division in its own right with a dean, department chairs and departments.

Under Orchard’s stewardship, UTM became “a campus of choice for students, rather than a second thought.” During his tenure, enrolment doubled and buildings valued at a total of $250 million were constructed.

“With all of the growth and development, it was an exciting time,” Orchard says. “Change was needed. The government was looking to educate more students and there was money for infrastructure. We took advantage.”


Selected Awards:

U of T Mississauga Research Excellence Award, 2013. UTM’s premier recognition for faculty research and scholarship.

U of T Distinguished University Professor, 2011. An honour U of T accords to a small number of faculty.

U of T establishes the Ian Orchard Student Initiative Fund, 2010, supporting university-recognized student groups with inspiring and engaging projects or events that enhance the student experience and foster a sense of campus community.