Georgian College Celebrates grads, awards honorary degrees
For the first time in more than two years, Georgian College celebrated the pomp and circumstance of in-person convocations on June 13 and 14.
Approximately 3,500 graduates from 135 programs crossed the stage at convocation as the college returned to traditional in-person celebrations after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the previous two spring and fall convocations to be held virtually. Alumni who graduated virtually in 2020 and 2021 were also invited back for two special ceremonies, allowing them the opportunity to cross the stage.
“We were very excited to celebrate our graduates in a more traditional manner,” said Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes, Georgian College President and CEO. “We know how important it is for our wonderful and resilient students to complete this chapter of their academic journey by walking across that stage. It was also very meaningful that we could provide our class of 2020 and 2021 graduates with an opportunity to cross the stage as well.”
The celebrations were extra special with the college presenting Board of Governors’ Honorary Degrees to six exemplary recipients. Dr. West-Moynes and various board members conferred the degrees, which recognize individuals who have made a significant contribution to society, achieved noted accomplishments in a particular field of study or applied education, and enhanced or promoted the college’s image and reputation in Ontario or elsewhere.
The following were presented:
- Jim Bertram – Honours Bachelor of Police Studies: Jim has shared his knowledge and expertise with Georgian’s Board of Governors in countless ways, serving as Chair, Vice Chair and Chair of several committees. Under his strategic leadership, Georgian became Canada’s first – and only – Ashoka U designated changemaker college, the leading designation for social innovation in higher education. The college also incorporated Indigenization learning objectives into several programs on a continued journey toward Truth and Reconciliation. Jim was a strong advocate for broadening access to postsecondary education and increasing degree programs in Central Ontario, influencing the growth of Georgian’s partnership with Lakehead University. After a 30-year distinguished career in policing, he launched a successful security business.
- Giselle Bodkin – Honours Bachelor of Counselling Psychology: Giselle is a strong advocate for improving the lives of women and their communities by ensuring access to postsecondary education. She is a member of the Georgian College Advancement Committee, helping to raise critical funds in support of the college and our students. She spearheaded the Women’s inTUITION campaign, recruiting others to donate to a scholarship fund for women studying at Georgian. To date, more than $755,000 has been raised and more than 250 awards, scholarships and bursaries distributed to students. When Giselle learned about the Georgian Food Locker, the emergency on-campus food bank, she immediately stepped up and her workplace, BDO Canada, made a cash gift and donated 2,576 pounds of food. Giselle has worked at BDO Canada for over 25 years and became Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer in 2021.
- Brian Davenport – Honours Bachelor of Business Administration: Brian contributed his extensive financial and business knowledge to Georgian’s Board of Governors serving as Chair, Vice Chair and Chair of several board committees. He was Chair of the board from 2019 to 2020 – a year of great uncertainty and rapid change due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian’s focus on financial sustainability and his expertise were critical during this time. Brian was also an ardent champion of research and development, entrepreneurship and social innovation. Georgian opened the Peter B. Moore Advanced Technology Centre during his time as Vice Chair in 2018. He continues to be an active supporter of all seven Georgian campuses and advocates for the Owen Sound Campus at every opportunity. Brian is Vice President, Portfolio and Wealth Advisor, at RBC Dominion Securities.
- Don Gordon – Honours Bachelor of Business Administration: Don served on Georgian’s Board of Governors as Chair, Vice Chair and Chair of several board committees. During this time, he advocated for apprenticeships and the skilled trades, tirelessly promoting Georgian’s Robbert Hartog Midland Campus. He recognized the critical demand by employers for skilled graduates to keep pace with the significant growth in this region. He also understood the value of hands-on, applied education and the need to continually build industry partnerships to ensure training is current and relevant. Under his leadership, Georgian developed skilled trade partnerships with companies including Mercury Marine Canada and Honda of Canada Manufacturing. Don, who spent more than 40 years in the concrete industry until his retirement in 2015 is recognized by his peers for exceptional leadership and integrity.
- Jane (Brown) Jackson – Honours Bachelor of Science – Nursing: Jane is a passionate and loyal champion of Georgian, carrying on her family’s commitment in support of our strategic priorities. As a member of the Simcoe County Advisory Group for Georgian’s Frontline Support: Health-care Heroes Closer to Home campaign, Jane has been instrumental in helping to raise more than $3 million to support, educate and train the nurses of tomorrow and to address the critical nursing shortage. She has also spoken to nursing students about her personal experience living with a trachea tube. Her positive attitude toward having the device is inspirational to everyone who knows her. She generously supported the college and our students in countless other ways through scholarships for nursing students, investing in the Peter B. Moore Advanced Technology Centre, and driving innovation and economic growth. She volunteers with Georgian’s Women’s inTUITION awards program and received a Board of Governors’ Community Partner Award in 2020.
special photo: Jane (Brown) Jackson (centre) receives an honorary degree from Georgian College President and CEO Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes and Board of Governors member Steve Loftus during Georgian convocation ceremonies on June 14.
- Paul Larche – Honours Bachelor of Business Administration: Paul shared his wisdom, expertise and strategic vision as Chair and Vice Chair of Georgian’s Board of Governors. During his tenure as Chair, Georgian received a $400,000 grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada to create a Centre for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging as well as $955,000 from Future Skills Centre to expand the use of extended reality technologies. Under his board leadership, Georgian launched a bold multi-year, multi-phase digital innovation strategy to enhance teaching, learning and student services, and position the college for success during and on the other side of the pandemic. Paul also played an integral role in the success of the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) providing guidance and support to both student and community entrepreneurs. Through the Larche Family Foundation, Paul and his wife supported the Frontline Support: Health-care Heroes Closer to Home campaign and HBEC to help foster innovation and drive a stronger economy.
special photo: Paul Larche (seated) receives an honorary degree from Georgian College President and CEO Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes and Board of Governors Chair Ali Khonsari during Georgian convocation ceremonies on June 14.
“All of our recipients embody the honorary degree criteria and exemplify the college’s values in so many ways,” said Dr. West-Moynes. “They have consistently achieved excellence in all their endeavours and been good friends to our students and advocates for all seven Georgian campuses.”
Graduates taking part in the June convocations completed programs at all seven Georgian campuses in Barrie, Midland, Muskoka (Bracebridge), Orangeville, Orillia, Owen Sound and South Georgian Bay (Collingwood).