Just what was said: Words of wisdom from Honorary Degree recipients

By Dale Johnson Posted: June 9, 2017 5:45 p.m.

Philanthropist Kenneth Levene was one of three people to receive honorary degrees at Spring Convocation.
Philanthropist Kenneth Levene was one of three people to receive honorary degrees at Spring Convocation. Photo: U of R Photography

Highlights from speeches by this year’s Honorary Degree recipients:

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 – Kenneth Levene, businessperson who made a $4-million donation to establish the Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business:

Thank you for this great honour, which I humbly accept. I would not be receiving this award today had it not been for the values and influence of my predecessors.

First, there was my grandfather, who left Russia in 1911 with nothing but the courage and foresight to seek a better life for his family here in Canada. Then there were my parents, who instilled in me many life principles, foremost of which was the importance of giving back to the community that had treated us so well.

The Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business is a tribute to my predecessors and a contribution to the community. A graduate school of business is not a static entity any more than a business itself. So it is essential for everyone involved – from staff and professors, to students and alumni, and even those in the general community – to ensure that the Levene School grows and flourishes, in order to stay relevant.  

We are witnessing an exciting new age, the digital age, where artificial intelligence will play a bigger and bigger role in business, creating changes and upheaval akin to the effect of the industrial revolution in its day. By staying relevant in this rapidly-changing business climate, the Levene Graduate School of Business can enable us to be better equipped to face these new challenges. Let us all strive for its continued success.

Again, on behalf of my family, my predecessors and myself, thank you very much for honouring me today.

Thursday, June 8, 2017 – Timothy Hearn, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Imperial Oil Limited from 2002 to 2008:

I want to congratulate the graduating class on achieving this very important milestone, and extend to them my very best wishes for much success and fulfillment on your new journey in life. I think you’re all well suited now to make a difference in your chosen field, as well as to serve others along the way.

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Tim Hearn is awarded his honorary degree by Chancellor Jim Tomkins. Photo: U of R Photography

As you now enter this new stage of life, there is so much that is different from when I graduated. Everything from the warp speed of communications to the transparency of actions to the nature of work, the world, the workplace and the home all function in massively different ways.

However, some things should remain constant, beginning with the pursuit of excellence in all important things that you choose to undertake.

Also, the unrelenting commitment to personal ethics and integrity in all that you do, as well as the treatment of your fellow persons, with the utmost of dignity and respect. These have been, and should continue to remain, steadfast pillars in our society and central to our own personal behaviour.  

In simple terms, do the right things the right way for the right reasons, and you will not only feel much better about yourself, you’ll be left with a clear conscience.

A lot of these values were instilled in me by growing up in this great province. My hope and aspiration for you is that you will model the way with this behaviour for many others in the years to come.

I want to express my appreciation to the University and all of those involved for this award. Most importantly I want to wish the graduates all the very best in your pursuit of new vistas and new opportunities.

Friday, June 9, 2017 – Beverley Ann Busson, former RCMP Commissioner, member of the first class of female RCMP members training in Regina in 1974:

No one in any profession really achieves success alone. As you travel along life’s highway, every one of you will meet someone who will have an impact on your life. And, in turn, you will influence others in ways that you will never realize. Always strive to learn from those you admire, but also remember to be kind. Kindness is a powerful currency and it is free to use. 

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Beverley Ann Busson is congratulated by President Dr. Vianne Timmons. Photo: U of R Photography

A wise person once said that no one will care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Make sure that you look to find the good in people and strive to improve the world. Make sure that you never miss the opportunity to make positive changes in the lives of others. The passion of an individual can make an amazing difference.

Second, you cannot be sure of what’s in store. I encourage you to receive whatever opportunity is placed before you, and not to define your expectations and aspirations, or overly define your plans. If I had been following a specific path, I never would have dared to have the nerve to  dream the future that was in store for me. Life has a way of finding its own direction, and in many cases, a direction that is more exciting and more satisfying than anything that I would actually have planned for myself.

Lastly, never forget those who supported you through your journey, and those who love you, whether they be your friends, your parents, or those close to you. There is no measure of success that will offer you more fulfillment than if you have love and support in your life.

I hope that my words will help all of you in some small way to realize your own potential in your chosen fields and careers. The future is yours to create and discover. Thank you, and congratulations to the graduates of 2017.

More coverage of Spring Convocation 2017:

Journey from Iran to U of R leads to Arts Dean's Medal

University of Regina celebrates success at 43rd Spring Convocation

Meet the University of Regina's newest Honorary Degree receipients