Press Release: The David & Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation Established

The David & Sharon Johnston Centre forCorporate Governance Innovation Established at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

May 14. 2019

Toronto – A new centre at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management will focus its efforts on under explored areas of corporate governance.

The work of The David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation will support academic research and teaching that will improve the effectiveness of boards of directors, with a special focus on under-served sectors such as private and public family enterprises, dual-class public issuers, cooperatives, crown corporations and the arts.

“Canada has a global reputation for good corporate governance but governance is evolving and no one-size-fits-all model is best for every company. The Centre will conduct research relevant to different corporate structures and develop the tools to support their boards and directors,” says Tiff Macklem, Dean of the Rotman School.

The Centre is named in honour of the remarkable contributions to Canadian life, society and business of   David and Sharon Johnston. In a lengthy career in the university sector, The Right Honourable David Johnston served as principal and vice-chancellor of McGill University and president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. He also held teaching and leadership roles at Queen’s University, University of Toronto, and Western University. During his career, he served on the boards of a number of public companies as well as on boards of not-for-profit organizations and universities. He was the first non-U.S. citizen to be elected president of Harvard’s board of overseers. He is the author or co-author of 3 dozen books.  In 2010, he was named as Canada’s 28th Governor General, a position he held until 2017. Together with Sharon Johnston, he focused his mandate on strengthening the pillars of learning and innovation, philanthropy and volunteerism and families and children.

Sharon Johnston holds a doctorate in rehabilitation medicine from McGill University and practised as a physio occupational therapist.  Her first internship was in a children’s psychiatric ward and she has championed mental health throughout her career.  While at Rideau Hall, she travelled across the country and abroad to advocate for mental health and eliminated stigma and helped families.  She is an Honorary Capt(N) in the regiment whose focus is military families and mental health throughout the armed forces.  She is a novelist whose second book of a trilogy is currently in press.

The Johnstons have 5 daughters and 14 grandchildren.

“David has a long association with and interest in governance from a national level to an operating company level and Sharon has a lifetime interest in families and their health,” says David Beatty, director of The David & Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance Innovation.

This year the Johnston Centre will launch an annual research grant to support work on the subject of corporate governance with special preference given to applications focusing on private or family enterprise. Another priority is the examination of effective practices for the mitigation of risk in dual-class structures and a series of video case studies highlighting real-world governance successes representing family businesses, dual-class and other sectors. For more information on the Johnston Centre, visit

The Rotman School of Management is part of the University of Toronto, a global centre of research and teaching excellence at the heart of Canada’s commercial capital. Rotman is a catalyst for transformative learning, insights and public engagement, bringing together diverse views and initiatives around a defining purpose: to create value for business and society. For more information, visit

David Beatty is an adjunct professor and Conway Chair of the Clarkson Centre for Business Ethics and Board Effectiveness at the Rotman School of Management. Over his career, he has served on more than 39 boards of directors and been Chair of nine publicly traded companies. He was the founding managing director of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (2003 to 2008). A version of this article will also appear in the Winter 2017 edition of Rotman Management, published by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.