Dr. Catherine Henderson, who served as president of OCAD from 1998 to 2000 before it became a university, passed away peacefully in her Toronto Beach home on December 27, 2020.
An alumna of Branksome Hall and Trinity College (University of Toronto), Dr. Henderson pursued a diverse education, obtaining a diploma in early childhood education from Sheridan College, a Master of Education in teacher development from Brock University, and a doctorate in adult education from OISE.
Although she began her career as an educator, she moved into administrative positions, eventually becoming vice-president, academic, at Sheridan College after teaching in the Child Studies Program at the college.
She was president of Centennial College from 1992 to 1998, becoming the first woman to hold this position and one of the very few women to lead an Ontario college at the time. She instituted a number of important changes at Centennial, not least of which was the establishment of The Bell Centre for Creative Communications, now known as the Story Arts Centre.
From 1998 to 2000, she served as president of OCAD and supported the institution in acquiring university status from the Government of Ontario.
She won several awards for her work and was an ardent advocate for the Ontario college system, having been the first college graduate to become a college president.
Dr. Henderson lived in the Toronto Beach community and was a common sight on Queen Street and on the boardwalk accompanied by her wonderful dogs. She enjoyed antiquing with friends, going to the ballet, traveling and having lunch with her sisters.
The family is making arrangements to have a commemorative bench installed at the Beach in her memory.
Sources: Centennial College and Globe and Mail