Hazel McCallion smiling at a graduation ceremony

On the Passing of Hazel McCallion

Alexandra Gillespie

I’m writing to remember the brilliant Hazel McCallion, who passed away peacefully today at her home in Mississauga at the age of 101. Hazel was a fierce champion for Mississauga, a dedicated advocate for UTM, and a tireless volunteer in service of this community. I feel honoured to have been touched by her life—and grateful to live in a city so profoundly shaped by her leadership.

Hazel served the Mississauga community as mayor for 36 years, leading this city’s transformation from a mid-sized suburb into one of Canada’s largest and most vibrant hubs for business, education, and innovation. Her vision helped lift up our community here at UTM, including in her long-time role as our special adviser. Hazel shared razor-sharp guidance to help us launch new academic programs, including at our Institute for Management and Innovation, and she recognized, before almost anyone else, the potential for what UTM could be: the world-leading research university in Mississauga for Mississauga.

She also saw how to make a difference in people’s lives, including in my own, especially as I worked to find my way as the first woman appointed as UTM’s Vice-President and Principal.

I remember reaching out to Hazel in early 2021—as I’ve done so often over the past years—to ask for advice, amid the third wave of the pandemic. UTM was considering setting up on campus Mississauga’s first mass vaccination clinic for COVID-19: a big decision! We talked about the complexity of the operation and the challenges that it might create. But then Hazel said, with calm force: “you should just do it.” That was Hazel, in this moment as throughout her life: clear, confident, strong—always ready to point others in the right direction and do what’s best for this community, no matter how hard.

I admire her immensely. And I will miss her greatly. And so will UTM, U of T, and Mississauga. This is a better university, a better city, and a better world because of Hazel McCallion. Thank you, Hazel: we will miss you.

Alexandra Gillespie
Vice-President and Principal
University of Toronto Mississauga