The Council of Ontario Universities (COU) provides a forum for Ontario’s universities to collaborate and advocate in support of their shared mission to the benefit and prosperity of students, communities and the province of Ontario.
David Lindsay - President and CEO

President’s Bio

Appointed President and CEO of the Council of Ontario Universities in January 2016, David Lindsay is committed to a strong postsecondary education system that advances the contributions of universities for the success of our students, the betterment of our economy and the vitality of our communities.

David works with government, business and other key stakeholders to help our students and the province adapt and thrive in tomorrow’s changing world.

He has a wealth of public policy experience and a proven track record in the leadership of public sector organizations. He was most recently the President and CEO of the Forest Products Association of Canada. Before this, he was a senior Deputy Minister in the Government of Ontario serving in the portfolios of Energy and Infrastructure, Northern Development, Mines and Forestry, Natural Resources, and Tourism and Culture.

David served as President and CEO of Colleges Ontario and was the founding President of the Ontario SuperBuild Corporation and the Ontario Jobs and Investment Board. He also served as Principal Secretary and Chief of Staff to the Premier of Ontario.

A Fellow of the Queen’s University School of Policy Studies, David has also been a past Director of the Ireland Park Foundation, the Ontario Innovation Trust, the World Wildlife Fund, the Canadian Tourism Commission, the Public Policy Forum, and the Empire Club of Canada.


Chair’s Bio

Dr. Franco J. Vaccarino has been president and vice-chancellor of the University of Guelph since 2014.

Before joining U of G, Dr. Vaccarino served since 2007 as principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) and vice-president of the University of Toronto. He joined the University of Toronto in 1984, and ultimately as served chair of the Department of Psychology, and also as head of the Department of Psychiatry’s neuroscience program.

A Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, he has served as executive vice-president (programs) and vice-president (research) at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and as vice-president and director of research, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, both in Toronto.

Described as a builder and a visionary, he brought to the University of Guelph a track record as a proven leader with remarkable academic achievements, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a powerful commitment to community and societal engagement.

As U of G president, Dr. Vaccarino is proud to head one of Canada’s top comprehensive and research-intensive universities, known internationally as Canada’s food university and home to both the Food From Thought project and the Arrell Food Institute. Through public- and private-sector collaborations — notably through the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs-University of Guelph Partnership – the University helps ensure the continued prosperity of Canada’s agri-food sector. He is the current Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities.


Vice-Chair’s Bio

Dr. Sara Diamond is the President and Vice-Chancellor of OCAD University. She holds a PhD in Computing, IT and Engineering, a Masters in Performative New Media Arts and an Honour Bachelors in History and Communications.

She founded and led the Banff New Media Institute from 1995 – 2005, establishing summits of artists, designers, scientists and industry, practice based and research workshops, creative co-productions, laboratories and research in new media. Since 2015 she has led OCAD University to retain its traditional strengths in art and design, while transforming the university to become a leader in STEAM+D (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, Medicine and Design), with capacities in digital media, design research and curriculum.

She initiated and funding the Digital Futures Initiative and the Digital Media Research and Innovation Institute; supported OCAD U’s unique research in Inclusive Design and design for health. She collaborated with Indigenous colleagues to develop the Indigenous Visual Culture Program, with correlative prioritization of Indigenous knowledge and culture at OCAD U.

In 2018 she received the Inspiring 50 Award for women recognized for the advancement of diversity of STEM fields from the Government of Netherlands and Senate of Canada and the Canada 150 Women Leaders, Champions and Luminaries. She is a member of the Order of Canada; is appointed to the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Academy of Art; and has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for Contributions to Canada; and named as one of Toronto Life’s 50 most influential.  She was honoured as Digital Media Pioneer by the GRAND National Centre of Excellence in 2015; and in 2019 Digital Media Pioneer by DigiFest. Dr. Diamond is the current Vice-Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities.