Stephen Toope
346th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge
Assumed office
October 1, 2017
Preceded bySir Leszek Borysiewicz
2nd Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
In office
June 1, 2015 – October 1, 2017
Preceded byJanice Stein
Succeeded byRandall Hansen (interim)
12th President of the University of British Columbia
In office
July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2014
Preceded byMartha Piper
Succeeded byArvind Gupta
Personal details
Stephen John Toope

(1958-02-14) February 14, 1958 (age 63)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Spouse(s)Paula Rosen
Alma mater
OccupationAcademic administrator
ProfessionAcademic, lawyer, legal scholar, pedagogue

Stephen John Toope OC (born February 14, 1958) is a Canadian legal scholar, academic administrator and a scholar specializing in human rights, public international law and international relations.

In April 2013 he announced he was stepping down as University of British Columbia president, following an eight-year term.[1] He was named Officer of the Order of Canada in 2015.[2] On 1 October 2017, he became the 346th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.[3] On 20 September 2021, he announced he was stepping down as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.[4]


Toope graduated from Harvard University in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in English Literature and European History. He then received two law degrees – in common law and civil law[5] – from the McGill University Faculty of Law in 1983, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the McGill Law Journal. In 1987, he earned a Doctorate of Philosophy in arbitration law at Trinity College, Cambridge.[6]


After completing his PhD, Toope joined McGill University's faculty.[7]

He served as dean of McGill University Faculty of Law from 1994 to 1999. He is the youngest person to have held the position. During his tenure as dean, he led the then-largest capital campaign in Canadian law faculty history to build a new Law library, and oversaw the renewal of the faculty's curriculum.

Toope then headed the Trudeau Foundation, named in honor of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau.[8] The Foundation is an independent, private, and non-partisan Canadian educational foundation that focuses on identifying outstanding talent in the social sciences and humanities, thereby building a network to promote public debate on issues of societal importance. The Foundation awards five fellowships and 15 doctoral candidate scholarships annually to recognize outstanding achievement in the humanities and social sciences that exemplify innovative public policy approaches and a commitment to public engagement. Established in 2002, the Foundation manages an endowment of more than C$140 million.

In 2006, Toope became the 12th president and vice-chancellor of the University of British Columbia succeeding Martha Piper. He also held an academic position at the university as a tenured professor of law. He assumed the presidential post on July 1, 2006, and held the position for eight years, until June 30, 2014. On April 3, 2013, it was announced that Toope would leave the UBC presidency effective June 2014 to "pursue academic and professional interests in international law and international relations".[9]

In January 2015, Toope became the Director of the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs.[10]

On October 2, 2017, he became the 346th person to serve as Vice-Chancellor at Cambridge University in England, becoming the first non-Briton to do so.[11] He is concurrently Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law, a Professorial Fellow of Clare Hall, and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity College.

Toope has been consulted extensively by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and the Canadian International Development Agency. He has won publishing awards from the American Society of International Law and the Canadian Tax Foundation.

He has also conducted various human rights seminars for government officials in Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and was a member of the UN observer delegation to the first post-apartheid South African elections. He has also served as Research Director, Office of the Special Representative concerning the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People in 1991.

In 2017, he received an honorary doctorate from McGill University.[12]

His service to the community includes serving on the boards of non-governmental organizations that promote human rights and international development, including the Canadian Human Rights Foundation, the World University Service of Canada and the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances.[13]

In an op-edit, in 2018 he criticized British politicians for "condemning UK universities as broken and in need of market discipline."[14]

In 2019, he received an honorary LLD from the Law Society of Ontario.[15] During his annual university address,[16] in 2020 he announced Cambridge was removing fossil fuel investments from its portfolio.[17]


Toope was mentioned in a controversy about Jesus College's China/UK Global Issues Dialogue Centre.

The Dialogue Centre published in February 2020 a report about telecommunications reforms. It praised Huawei, advancing ideas thought to be beneficial to Chinese interests. The report carried a foreword from the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

On July 9, 2020, after Freedom of Information requests, Jesus College admitted it had accepted £200,000 for the Dialogue Centre from a branch of the Chinese State Council, £55,000 from another branch for the China Centre and £150,000 from Huawei for the digital report. Until then, not even the Fellows of Jesus College – the governing body – had been informed.


Toope took up residence in Cambridge in 2018, along with his wife, Paula Rosen, a speech-language pathologist and musical theatre composer. They have three adult children.[18]


  1. ^ "UBC president Stephen Toope leaving post next year". Global News. April 3, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  2. ^ "Four Nova Scotians among Order of Canada honourees". The Chronicle-Herald, July 1, 2015.
  3. ^ "Notices - Cambridge University Reporter 6436".
  4. ^ "Statement about the Vice-Chancellor". University of Cambridge. September 20, 2021. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  5. ^ Anon. (December 19, 2012). "Stephen J. Toope". Fondation Trudeau. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  6. ^ Toope, Stephen John (1986). Arbitrations involving states and foreign private parties : A study in contemporary legal process. (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. OCLC 499910996. EThOS
  7. ^ "Tuum est, Mr. President". Ubyssey. March 24, 2006. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved May 20, 2006.
  8. ^ Waldie, P., "Cambridge’s Canadian leader seeks answers and justice for its slave-trade past—and finds controversy", The Globe and Mail, December 16, 2019.
  9. ^ UBC Public Affairs (April 3, 2013). "Stephen Toope to leave UBC Presidency in June 2014". Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  10. ^ "Stephen J. Toope | Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy". Retrieved November 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Jim Coyle (September 10, 2017). "A Canadian is poised to shake up Cambridge University – the first non-Briton in 800 years". The Toronto Star. The Star. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  12. ^ "Stephen Toope to receive honorary doctorate from McGill University". McGill University. April 25, 2017. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  13. ^ Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto, CV of Stephen J. Toope, Spring 2016.
  14. ^ Rosemary Bennett (March 16, 2018). "Turning universities into businesses 'caused strikes', says Cambridge vice-chancellor Stephen Toope". The Times. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  15. ^ Law Society of Ontario (June 20, 2019). "Law Society to present honorary LLD to legal scholar, Professor Stephen Toope, O.C., on June 26". Law Society Gazette. Retrieved June 20, 2019.
  16. ^ "Cambridge University ending fossil fuel investments". Associated Press. October 1, 2020. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  17. ^ "Cambridge University ending fossil fuel investments". Associated Press. October 1, 2020. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
  18. ^ Weglowska, Magdalena (February 23, 2015). "Professor Stephen J Toope". Retrieved November 5, 2019.
Academic offices Preceded byMartha Piper President of the University of British Columbia 2006–2014 Succeeded byArvind Gupta Preceded bySir Leszek Borysiewicz Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 2017- Succeeded byIncumbent