April 17, 2019

In memoriam: Dr. Marsha Hanen

Campus flag will be half-masted on Thursday, April 18 in memory of Dr. Marsha Hanen
Marsha Hanen
In memory of Marsha Hanen

The Faculty of Arts is mourning the loss of Dr. Marsha Hanen, PhD, a professor of philosophy who served as dean of the former Faculty of General Studies in the mid to late 1980s, before becoming President and Vice Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg. Hanen was also President of the Board of the Victoria Symphony.

She died peacefully at home with family in Victoria, BC on Saturday, April 13, 2019 after living for an extended time with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

“She was a trailblazer for women academics, both for her leadership and for her work as an interdisciplinary researcher,” says Tamara Palmer Seiler, PhD, a professor emerita of Canadian Studies at the University of Calgary who was a colleague of Hanen’s and a friend. “Her research focus was the philosophy of science and she was always crossing disciplines. She was a visionary in this way, and a great leader. One respected her leadership, but she was also warm and friendly. I regarded her as a friend.”

Hanen was born in Calgary in 1936. Her life was influenced from the beginning by the theme of education connected to leadership, community, and culture. Her parents, both child immigrants (via Winnipeg) were instrumental in the founding and ongoing life of the I.L. Peretz School, a Jewish school that sought to keep alive a rich Yiddish culture alongside a modern education.

After a decade studying in the U.S. and having two children, in 1966 she returned with her first husband and daughters to her hometown and taught in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary. In her long career there, she grew into leadership roles, last as Dean of the Faculty of General Studies which she co-founded. She also earned a Fellowship in Law and Philosophy at Harvard University.

Her wide-ranging interests in higher education and social justice, from philosophy of law to feminist theory, brought her to lead many initiatives encouraging interdisciplinary studies and accessible educational opportunities. She published, and mentored colleagues and students, including many young women breaking career barriers.

In 1989, she moved to Winnipeg, with her second husband Dr. Robert (Bob) Weyant, PhD, who had also been a dean of the Faculty of General Studies. Becoming President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Winnipeg she was one of the first women in such a prominent leadership role in higher education.

Her next move was to Victoria, and to the role of President of the Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership. From 1999-2006 she brought leaders, thinkers, and community members together to engage with challenging issues of civil society. She also became involved with the Victoria Symphony, as President of the Board, Chair of the musical director search committee, supporter of women in music, infusing her last years with life-enriching music and relationships. Honours included induction as a Member of the Order of Canada, Honorary Doctor of Laws from York University, and Honourary Life Member of the Victoria Symphony Society.

Hanen is survived by her brother, Ron; her daughters, Amy and Sharon; her daughter-in-law, Shari; her stepsons, Stephen and David; and her grandchildren, Benson, Anna, and Austin. She was predeceased by her parents, Rowena and Ben Pearlman; by her first husband, Harold Hanen; and in 2017 by her husband, Robert (Bob) Weyant. Burial will take place at Royal Oak Burial Park, www.robp.ca, 4673 Falaise Drive, Victoria at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 18, 2019. All are welcome, and also invited to gather from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m. to share memories at the Wedgewood Estates clubhouse, 2829 Arbutus Road, Victoria. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Marsha's memory to The Victoria Symphony Society.