KOKOMO, Ind. — Indiana University looks to Mark Canada to build on IU Kokomo’s legacy of exceptional teaching and scholarship, student-focused educational excellence, and community engagement, installing him as its eighth chancellor in a ceremony Friday, October 21, in Havens Auditorium.
IU President Pamela Whitten noted that Canada continues the campus’s tradition of excellent leadership, citing in particular the IU Kokomo Experience and You, or KEY program, the distinctive experiential learning program developed during his tenure as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.
“Mark knows and understands the mission of the regional campuses and has been a champion for student engagement and other important initiatives during his time at IU Kokomo,” she said. “Under the leadership of Chancellor Mark Canada, I am confident that the IU Kokomo campus, and the entire region, can look forward to even bigger, better, and brighter days ahead.”
More than 200 students, faculty, staff, alumni, family members, and community friends attended the event, formalizing Canada’s appointment that began August 15.
Canada said as he considered the day, baseball great Lou Gehrig’s words, “Today I consider myself to be the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” came to mind.
“I do consider myself fortunate to be working for my alma mater, and specifically IU Kokomo, because of all the wonderful colleagues around me today, but this day is not about me,” he said. “It’s about us, united in our mission here and across all of education.”
He said “lucky” may not be the first word that comes to mind when thinking about the current state of the world, with the global pandemic, war in Europe, and violence and injustice arising from racism and hatred. But, he said, educators are lucky to work in a profession that can change these things for the better.
“Every one of you here today can make a positive difference by doing your job well, acting in ways that lift others up instead of tearing them down, and participating constructively in a democratic society,” Canada said, adding that we can get it right this time, with love and will — our conscious ability to choose and act.
“Every morning, when I come here to IU Kokomo, I have an opportunity to contribute to this glorious mission of higher education, and so do all of my colleagues here beside and before me,” he said. “We, all of us humans of every profession, race, age, orientation, and belief, control our destiny. Let us unite our heads, hands, hearts, and minds to make the world we imagine and need.
“Then we all can consider ourselves the luckiest people on the face of the earth,” Canada said.
The ceremony also includes words of support from several IU Kokomo constituencies — including the students.
Mary Hogsett, Student Government Association president, commended Canada for his care and excitement for the university, his pride in the students, and his resolve to do whatever he can to help them.
“The Chancellor truly has been the student body’s biggest fan, and has made that clear since day one,” she said. “We are so thrilled to have such a staunch supporter of students, and we are excited to see all the great things you have brought and continue to bring to campus.”
Recent graduate Alex Martakis spoke of support he received from Canada as he tried several majors before choosing computer science, and the impact of the KEY program. He’s now completing a Master of Science in Computer Science at the University of California San Diego — one of the top computer science programs in the country.
“I always felt prepared for success at IU Kokomo,” Martakis said. “Because of Dr. Canada’s time and efforts, I had the opportunity to take a trip to Silicon Valley, study abroad in England, and receive a letter of recommendation that aided in getting into grad school.
“Due to IU Kokomo’s exceptional quality in faculty and education, we alumni are prepared, and Chancellor Canada has demonstrated he will be there to provide an abundance of opportunities.”
Eva White, professor of English, congratulated Canada on behalf of the faculty, noting they appreciate his active listening and serious consideration of ideas.
“That is the KEY to his success,” she said. “He participates, he is involved, he wants to hear what you have to say, and he wants to help you realize your dreams for our campus. We, the faculty, offer you our support in meeting the challenges that lie ahead, and trust that we can meet them together and nurture both our campus and the communities we serve.”
Robert Hayes, representing the campus advisory board, said IU Kokomo is in good hands with Canada’s leadership, particularly praising his commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and “giving a feeling of belonging to everyone.”
Susan Sciame-Giesecke, vice president for regional campuses and online education, and Canada’s predecessor as chancellor, assisted Whitten in the installation.
Additional speakers included April Evans, director of human resources and payroll, and Paul Wyman, Howard County commissioner. Student Logan Brittain led singing of the National Anthem and “Hail to Old IU.”
Canada previously served as deputy chancellor since 2021, and as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs beginning in 2015. A native of Indianapolis, he has a bachelor’s degree in English from IU and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Canada lives in Kokomo with his wife, Lisa. They have two grown children, Esprit and Will.