Seneca’s Second President
Seneca is mourning the loss of its second president, W. Roy McCutcheon, who died on July 30, 2019, one day short of his 90th birthday. He served as Seneca’s second president from 1984 to 1992.
A service will be held at the Forrest and Taylor Funeral Home (20846 Dalton Rd.) in Sutton on Friday, Aug. 2 at 11 a.m. Visitation at 9 a.m.
A memorial service will follow in September.
Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the GTTI or SPCA. Memorial condolences may be made at www.forrestandtaylor.com.
Breaking New Ground
McCutcheon came to Seneca in 1969 as the assistant dean of academic divisions. Prior to that, he worked as a physical education teacher with the North York Board of Education, serving as founding principal at C.W. Jeffreys and Westview Centennial secondary schools.
In 1970, McCutcheon was named executive dean at Seneca and was responsible for all campus construction. It was a busy expansion period for Seneca that included the construction of both the Minkler Auditorium and the Sports Centre at Newnham Campus as well as the creation of King Campus.
The following year, with the purchase of Lady Flora Eaton’s King Township estate and the adjoining 650 acres, McCutcheon was named dean of the new King Campus. In that role, he developed programs and assembled an overall plan for what was Ontario’s largest campus at the time.
Highlights included the development of Seneca's continuing and community education programs, business and industry training, centres for executive management and development, the Mobile Intensive Learning Experience, international programs and employer-sponsored training.
With the acquisition of King Campus, a new tradition was started at Seneca: the employee picnic. Employees from all departments would head to the “island” for a hearty lunch and take part in a variety of outdoor activities such as sailing, volleyball and baseball.
The island was eventually named McCutcheon Island after the president.
When asked to reflect on his early years at King Campus for the 40th anniversary edition of Seneca's alumni magazine, McCutcheon said, “Back in those days, anytime we introduced a program or opened a building, we were breaking new ground. When I look back now at what we accomplished, there were many highlights, a few disappointments and a lot of funny stories in between.”
Leading Seneca into the Future
Seneca’s Board of Governors voted to rename the former Finch campus in honour of the retiring president William Newnham in 1984. That year, McCutcheon, then vice-president academic, was named his successor.
In Newnham's last President's Bulletin, he described McCutcheon's appointment as "a most worthy choice."
Throughout his time at Seneca, McCutcheon believed that, "If you have the right goal and the right people committed to that goal, you will get the job done regardless of any obstacles."
Under his leadership, Seneca was the first college in Ontario to enter into a joint articulation agreement with a secondary school in 1988. The agreement with Georges Vanier Secondary School offered academic and skills upgrading programs as credit courses for high school students.
In 1989, an expansion connected Phase 3 of Newnham Campus to the Sports Centre. The Student Federation Council and alumni groups pledged more than $600,000 for its construction.
McCutcheon announced his retirement in 1991.
After spending a career as an educator, including 23 years at Seneca, McCutcheon had said he wanted to be remembered as a leader who brought out the best in people.
"To me there was nothing more rewarding than seeing our students and staff succeed," he said. "The most rewarding part of my job as president of Seneca always came when I got to watch a class of graduates proudly accept their diplomas."