2016 Alumni Association Awards of Excellence winners

Photo du prix d’excellence de l’Association des diplômés de l’Université d’Ottawa. | Picture of the University of Ottawa Alumni Association Award of Excellence

The uOttawa Alumni Association recognizes the outstanding achievements of its members with the annual presentation of the Alumni Association Awards of Excellence. Established in 2011, these awards aim to recognize the inspiring talent, effort and influence of the University’s graduates—locally and worldwide.

Come meet them at the signature event of Alumni Week, Come Together uOttawa, on May 7, 2016!


Meritas-Tabaret Award for Alumni Achievement

Marc Jolicoeur (BAdm ’75, LLB ’78) – His heart in the right place

Marc Jolicoeur

In addition to being one of the most respected lawyers in Canada, Marc Jolicoeur is among those alumni whose generosity and actions have had a significant positive impact on their community and alma mater.

Immediately after being called to the bar in 1980, he joined the firm of Borden Ladner Gervais, where he rose through the ranks to become a partner, managing partner and then a national group leader. Specializing in corporate and commercial law, he continues to serve his clients with great pride and commitment, clients that include public institutions (hospitals, universities, museums, etc.) and not-for-profit organizations.

Ranked a leading lawyer in Best Lawyers in Canada and Lexpert, among others, Jolicoeur is one of the region’s most sought-after legal professionals whose reputation has seen him act in numerous high-profile files in the National Capital Region, including one involving the provision of integrated health services, Ottawa’s new light rail system, agreements for municipal collection and composting of organic waste and the redevelopment of Lansdowne Park.

A man of extraordinary generosity, Marc Jolicoeur is also known for sharing his expertise to the betterment of the wider community. Over the past 30 years, he has given his time and financial support to more than 25 organizations working in the areas of health and education, to support youth and combat poverty.

The University of Ottawa, in particular, has greatly benefitted from the tremendous loyalty, contributions and talents of Marc Jolicoeur, naming him an emeritus governor of the University’s Board of Governors in 2010 in recognition of more than 20 years of service on the Board, including seven as chair.

The Meritas Tabaret Award, the highest honour conferred by the University’s Alumni Association, takes its place among a long list of distinctions recognizing Jolicoeur’s deep commitment and exemplary career, including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal and the Order of Ottawa.


Alumnus of the Year

Micheál Kelly (MA ’75), a force to be reckoned with

Micheál Kelly

Micheál Kelly is now dean of the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, after spending 10 years at the helm of the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management.

As a management professor with extensive government experience, Kelly had never really meant to become a dean. But once in the position, he soon realized—along with everybody else—that he was pretty good at it.

How good? Good enough for a uOttawa alumnus to tell him he’d become so proud of his Telfer School degree that he’d removed his framed certificate from a box in his basement and placed it in a prominent place on his office wall.

This was shortly after Kelly landed a $25 million naming endowment for the Telfer School and led it to achieve the “triple crown” of international business school accreditations, among other incredible accomplishments.

Although Kelly credits his success at uOttawa to luck and having a great team, it’s likely that hard work, determination and a fairly competitive spirit might also have had something to do with it. It seems, too, history has a way of repeating itself around him—last year, it was Wilfrid Laurier’s turn to announce a major naming endowment for its business school.

The announcement—which came on the heels of a $20 million gift to the school from benefactor Mike Lazaridis, co-founder of Research in Motion—was due in large part to Kelly’s efforts. This feat makes him one of the most successful fundraising deans in Canada.

Kelly, a renowned expert on the management of global innovation systems, R&D alliances and the competitive strategies of technology-based firms, remains one of our most accomplished alumni and a force to be reckoned with in the field of business school development and governance.


Commitment to the University

Shirley Greenberg (C.M., LLB ’76, DUniv ’13) – Building a better society

Shirley Greenberg

When she started law school at the University of Ottawa in the 1970s, Shirley Greenberg was already in her forties and the mother of three children.

Prior to starting her law degree, she worked as a legal secretary. During this time, it became clear to Greenberg that lawyers weren’t treating women with the respect they deserved. So she decided to take things into her own hands!

Graduating from law school was only the beginning of a long and successful career in family law for Greenberg that saw her not only start Ottawa’s first all-female law firm but also help launch the careers of many female lawyers.

Today Greenberg is proud to have served her clients diligently within the framework of the laws of the day...all while working behind the scenes to get them changed and help push society forward.

Even though she is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement, Greenberg remains on the front lines of the Canadian women’s movement, as she has been for most of her adult life, advocating for her signature cause—empowering women and ensuring their needs are taken into account. But today it’s through her philanthropic endeavours that she is making a difference.

In the company of other institutions and organizations such as The Ottawa Hospital, Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and MATCH International Women’s Fund, the University of Ottawa has benefitted greatly from Shirley Greenberg’s generosity over the years.

She has donated almost $3 million to her alma mater for various initiatives, including the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession. At the time, her gift represented the largest donation from an individual. This benefactor also actively supports the Canadian International Longevity Centre, hosted at the Faculty of Health Sciences.

We are honoured to have the support of such a loyal friend of the University of Ottawa.


Young Alumna

Katherine Levac (BA ’11) – Seriously funny

Katherine Levac

Katherine Levac was half-heartedly planning on becoming a teacher, but thanks to her time on the stage at improv nights, the creative writing courses she was enrolled in and a minor in theatre during the time she was completing a BA in lettres françaises at the University of Ottawa, she found her true calling. Then, after a stint at Quebec’s comedy school, l’École nationale de l’humour, upon the recommendation of a friend, Levac soon found herself on the way to stardom.

Barely three years after leaving the comedy school, this young sensation already has some pretty impressive accomplishments under her belt.

Just in recent months, Levac participated in the documentary series Les 5 prochains (ICI ARTV), recorded two comedy sketch shows—Télé-Québec’s Like-Moi and CBC’s Le Nouveau Show, showed her reporting skills on PaparaGilles (ICI ARTV) and took to the stage for sold out performances of Un beau programme, a two-person comedy act at Montreal’s Cabaret Lion d’or.

This young woman has covered a lot of ground since her role as the unlucky-in-love, franglais-speaking, Franco-Ontarian Paidge Beaulieu on the now defunct program SNL Québec. Since then, audiences have been taking in the exceptional talent of this native of St-Bernardin, a small town in Eastern Ontario, who was the first woman named best new artist of the year, at the 2015 annual Les Olivier gala.

Even if Katherine Levac draws upon her personal experiences as fodder for the comedy she delivers with that signature expression, don’t try to put a label on her art. She isn’t there as the face of Franco-Ontarians, female comics or country folks. For her, the most important thing is to be authentic in all that she does and—of course—to be funny while doing it.


Community Service

Horace Alexis (BA ’62, MD ’66) – Building a better future through access to education

Horace Alexis

In 1958, Horace Alexis immigrated to Canada from Trinidad with $200 in his pocket and one goal—to become a doctor.

Now retired, Dr. Alexis practised family medicine for more than 40 years, but never forgot his roots or the sacrifices he had to make to reach his goal.

In fact, his own challenges and the difficult times he faced in those earlier years led him to create the Black Canadian Scholarship Fund (BCSF), one of his proudest achievements.

The goal of the BCSF is to help promising black students in financial need attend university. To date, more than $200,000 in scholarships has been awarded to approximately 40 students.

The premise behind the scholarship is that by providing someone with the means to get an education, we create a ripple effect that has a positive impact on generations to come—something Dr. Alexis has experienced firsthand within his own extended family.

The capital fund, initially endowed with a $5,000 gift from Dr. Alexis in 1996, is now worth a healthy half million dollars. The far-reaching impact of the BCSF is due in great part to Dr. Alexis himself, who struggled to ensure the survival of his scholarship at times against great odds.

Recognized for his involvement in the community, he has put his talent and skills to work over the years to help ensure the success of many other projects and organizations, including the Victorian Order of Nurses Canada, the James R. Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University, the Community Foundation of Ottawa and The Trinidad & Tobago Association of Ottawa.

The University of Ottawa is proud to recognize a community leader who knows so well the vital role education plays in building a better future.


Honorary Member of the Alumni Association

Sam Saab – From the heart to the table

Sam Saab

While Sam Saab isn’t an alum of the University of Ottawa, he’s certainly the next best thing—and definitely a member of the uOttawa family.

The well-liked owner of the popular Father and Sons restaurant, at the corner of Osgoode and King Edward, is a long-time friend of our institution, and specifically of the Gee-Gees.

For almost 50 years, Saab and his family have been serving up good food to members of the University community and providing outstanding support to students so they can fulfill their dreams.

At the University of Ottawa, we’ve stop counting the contributions made by Saab, who, in addition to having established an athletic scholarship, supports several Gee-Gees teams through his annual gifts—all in addition to providing the athletes with complimentary food before their home games.

Sam Saab is also well known for never refusing a request to help students. And not only those who sport the Gee-Gees jersey! Each year, he supports numerous student clubs and associations by providing prizes for various auctions, draws and other student activities.

Saab’s relationship with students, who make up 90% of his clientele, is far from one that is strictly financial. Today, his restaurant is like a second home to many of those attending uOttawa—another reason he works so hard to cultivate a relaxed and friendly atmosphere for his patrons.

This businessman who carved out a career in commercial real estate and the restaurant business—he is also co-owner of The Draft Pub in the University’s Minto Sports Complex—stands out in the local business community not only because of his professional success but also due to his deep commitment to an institution he has watched grow over the years.

The University of Ottawa is proud to present Sam Saab with this well-deserved award in recognition of everything he and his family have done for students over the past 50 years.

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