Changing faces: Eileen Gillese

2nd June 2016

News, Student news, Alumni news

A striking portrait of Justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Eileen E. Gillese (Law, 1977), greets visitors to the McCall MacBain Graduate Centre.

  • Eileen Gillese

Located just outside the Gillese-Badun seminar room, this newly commissioned photographic portrait is one of a series of images going up around College featuring sitters chosen following nominations from staff, students and alumni, as inspirational members of the Wadham community.

A justice of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, Eileen Gillese was formerly a justice of the Superior Court of Justice and has practiced law in Alberta and Ontario. Prior to her appointment to the Bench, she was Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario from 1996-1999 where she had been on the faculty since 1983.

Her areas of academic specialisation include pension law, trusts and administrative law. She previously served as Chair of the Pension Commission of Ontario, the Financial Services Commission and the Financial Services Tribunal. She is a member of the The Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, an independent charity which promotes outstanding research in the humanities and social sciences, fostering dialogue between scholars and policymakers in the arts community, business, government, the professions, and the voluntary sector. In 2005 Justice Gillese was named Canada’s Nation Builder and in 2015 she was appointed Chancellor of Brescia University College. She is married with four children.

Describing her experience as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford she said: “How comfortable I felt within a very short time after I arrived! It was an enormously reassuring feeling.  I think that one thing that contributed is Oxford’s tolerance for idiosyncrasies, which translates into people feeling free to be their authentic selves.  One memory that I have illustrates this point.  I remember coming home by train from London late one night and seeing the guy who ran the chip wagon close to the train station reading A Shortened History of England! Rather than appearing incongruous, it felt like Oxford’s best.  I found my time at Oxford to be very liberating.”

Warden of Wadham College, Ken Macdonald QC is spearheading this project to showcase a more balanced selection of images of Wadham’s alumni and fellows: “I wanted to address the predominance in Hall and around College of portraits of white men. The Wadham community is a diverse and inclusive one and, until now, this has not been reflected by the portraits which adorn its walls. Over the coming months we hope to go some way to provide our students with inspirational images which reflect today’s Wadham community.”

Justice Gillese was photographed by Sophia Spring.

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