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U of G chancellor quits in response to school's new stance on fossil fuels

U of G voted last month to divest itself from most of its fossil fuel investments
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Martha Billes. Tony Saxon/GuelphToday file photo

Martha Billes has resigned as chancellor of the University of Guelph because she disagrees with the school's new stance on fossil fuels.

The announcement was made Monday by U of G President Franco Vaccarino.

Billes is the controlling shareholder of Canadian Tire Corp. She was named U of G’s ninth chancellor in 2017.

A U of G news release says her departure was "prompted by the April 22 decision by the University’s Board of Governors to divest from fossil fuels. Billes, who is an ex-officio voting member of the Board, opposed the motion.

The University of Guelph passed a motion April 22 to divest from fossil fuels, leaving the door open for investment in green projects put forth by oil and gas companies.

The school has a $32.4 million endowment fund which have holdings with fossil fuel reserves.

“It is with a heavy heart that I inform our U of G community that Martha Billes has decided to step down as chancellor,” Vaccarino said in the news release.

“Martha has been a devoted ambassador for the University, enthusiastically supporting students and working hard to represent the University to government and to the public. We appreciate her many contributions, both as chancellor and as a proud U of G alumna.”

Vaccarino said, “Martha’s relationship with U of G is longstanding, and her connection and affection for the University remains strong. We appreciate the many positive things she accomplished during her tenure and wish her all the best.”

Information about plans to begin the search for a new chancellor is forthcoming; the process will be overseen by U of G’s Senate.