William C. Leggett served as Queen's 17th Principal from 1994 to 2004. Dr. Leggett is also a professor of Biology, with research focusing on the dynamics of fish populations. He was only the second scientist to hold the Principalship and his term as Principal was notable for his strong leadership and his insistence on measuring Queen's against the highest national and international standards.
Leggett grew up in Orangeville, Ontario and received his BA from Waterloo University College (which is now Wilfrid Laurier University) in 1962. He then studied Zoology at the University of Waterloo, from which he obtained his MSc in 1965, and McGill University, where he received his PhD in 1969.
Leggett had a long and successful career at McGill: he became an Assistant Professor in 1970, a full Professor in 1979, and was then made first Chair of the Biology Department in 1981, Dean of Science in 1986, and Vice-Principal of Academics in 1991 before joining Queen’s in 1994.
Leggett's tenure at Queen's saw the largest capital renewal program in the University's 160-year history, including the building of Chernoff Hall, Goodes Hall, Beamish-Munro Hall, and two new residences, Watts Hall and Leggett Hall, named in his honour. In the same time period, Queen's moved to a clear leadership position in Canadian post-secondary education and the participation of students in international study programs. Queen's also successfully completed the largest fundraising campaign in its history, more than doubling its research funding.
Leggett's work, both in biological science and as a leader in Canadian education, has resulted in numerous national and international awards, including membership in the Order of Canada, honorary degrees from several Canadian universities, Fellowship in the Royal Society of Canada, the Fry Medal of the Canadian Society of Zoologists, the Award of Excellence in Fisheries Education, the Oscar A. Sette Award of the American Fisheries Society, and the Award of Excellence from the American Fisheries Society.