Office of the President

Colleen M. Hanycz, PhD, President of Xavier University


In July 2021, Colleen M. Hanycz, PhD, became Xavier University’s 35th President: the first layperson and woman to serve in this role in Xavier’s 190-year history. Throughout her accomplished career as an attorney, professor, and administrator, President Hanycz has been an active proponent of Catholic education as a means to advance the common good and to celebrate the dignity of each person, and will continue this commitment in a Jesuit setting at Xavier.

From 2015 to 2021, President Hanycz served as the 29th President of La Salle University, also the first layperson and woman to serve in that role in La Salle’s 158-year history. In her six years at La Salle, President Hanycz led a number of significant strategic initiatives to position the university for growth and continued success, and to improve the educational experience for its students.

These initiatives included a strategic program prioritization that evaluated each of La Salle’s 300-plus academic and operational programs to promote alignment between the University’s programs, resources, and mission, and to create a culture of continuous improvement; a refreshed brand—Explorers are Never Lost—to better tell La Salle’s compelling story; a tuition reset program that reshaped the paradigm on college affordability; a new core curriculum and 12 robust institutional learning outcomes to ensure La Salle graduates are prepared for personal and professional success; and a five-year strategic plan, Momentum 2022.

Under President Hanycz’s leadership, La Salle enrolled its largest group of incoming students in 25 years—the most talented academically, and the most diverse by every measure—a remarkable achievement given persistent national trends of declining enrollment. She also led a number of significant capital projects on La Salle’s campus, including the completion of their $35M School of Business, as well as significant developments in the Connelly Learning Commons and Library and the Hansen Quad.

President Hanycz previously served in a presidential role at Brescia University College in London, Ontario, Canada. During her seven-year tenure at Brescia, a Catholic women’s college, she implemented a bold strategic plan that raised the college’s national profile, increased enrollment significantly, improved retention rates for talented students, faculty, and staff, doubled on-campus residence space, and developed innovative academic programs.

During this time, President Hanycz focused considerable efforts on the opportunity to enhance women’s representation both on corporate boards and across C-suite appointments, including service on a federal roundtable sponsored by the Canadian government. At Brescia, President Hanycz also launched a rebranding initiative to capitalize on Brescia’s identity as Canada’s only women’s college and to place an emphasis on women’s leadership. As part of the Brescia Bold—Choose to Lead initiative, Brescia developed an academic program on leadership, instituted a public speaking contest for female high school seniors across Canada, and expanded its Girls LEAD leadership development camps to international locations in the Caribbean and Hong Kong.

A native of Toronto, President Hanycz earned her Bachelor’s degree in history from St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, followed by the completion of her J.D. at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She practiced securities and employment litigation for several years at Heenan Blaikie LLP in Toronto and then returned to graduate studies, completing her LL.M. and Ph.D. in law at York University. In 2003, Dr. Hanycz was appointed as a full-time professor in the area of Civil Procedure and Dispute Resolution at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she served for several years before her first presidential appointment at Brescia University College.

President Hanycz and her husband Peter have been married for 25 years and have raised a family of three children.

This biography was originally published on the Association of Jesuit and Colleges' website.