Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Canadian woman picked to head La Salle University

Colleen M. Hanycz, 47, an attorney who currently heads a Catholic all-women university in Ontario, Canada, will be the first female and the first layperson named president of the 152-year-old school.

Colleen Hanycz comes to Philly from Canada, and will be the first woman and layperson to serve as president of La Salle University.
Colleen Hanycz comes to Philly from Canada, and will be the first woman and layperson to serve as president of La Salle University.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

ON A VISIT to Philadelphia in November, Colleen Hanycz did what most visitors do when in our midst: She ate her first cheesesteak.

The Canadian native isn't sure which locale she consumed said sandwich, only remembering that the eatery was inside the Reading Terminal Market and featured a "Best of" sign.

The sandwich "alone is reason to move to Philadelphia," Hanycz said yesterday.

In fact, a much higher calling has attracted the married mother of three here: Hanycz was named president of La Salle University yesterday by the school's Board of Trustees.

Hanycz, 47, a lawyer who heads Brescia University College in Canada, will be the first woman and the first layperson to be president of the 152-year-old Brothers of the Christian Schools university when she takes over in July.

"I feel very much at home here, and I'm not anything other than excited to be the first woman" to head the school, Hanycz said of her barrier-breaking appointment.

School officials in the statement described her as a "devout Roman Catholic."

Not being a Christian Brother does not mean that the school's character will change, she said.

That "does not change the character of La Salle and its commitment to individual education and meeting people where they are and building [an] authentic community," Hanycz said. "Those absolutely must continue."

Hanycz has served since 2008 as president of Brescia, a Catholic all-female university in London, Ontario, where she helped increase enrollment, raise the school's national profile and develop academic programs.

Before Brescia, Hanycz was assistant dean and associate professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto from 2003 to 2008. Before that, she worked as a securities and employment litigator at a Toronto law firm.

She succeeds Brother Michael McGinniss, who stepped down in May after 15 years as president. Since June, James Gallagher has served as interim president.

Hanycz is married to Peter, an insurance executive, and they have three children: Erik, 18, who is a freshman at a college in Canada, but "will be looking to go to La Salle," Hanycz said; Emily, 15, a high-school sophomore; and Claire, 11, a sixth-grader.