University of Manitoba - University Governance - Kevin Patrick Kavanagh, LL.D., May 17, 1990
Kevin Patrick Kavanagh, LL.D., May 17, 1990
Kevin Patrick Kavanagh
B .Comm.

I have the honour to present Mr. Kevin Patrick Kavanagh, B .Comm., a native son of Manitoba, a graduate of this University and a distinguished leader of the Canadian business community.

As President and Chief Executive Officer of The Great-West Life Assurance Company, Kevin Kavanagh has,for more than a decade, provided outstanding leadership to the largest international company based in Winnipeg and to one of the ten largest insurance companies in North America. At the same time he has been an exemplary and unshakable contributor to the wider community of Manitoba and to this University.

The son of Martin and Katherine Kavanagh, Kevin Kavanagh was born in 1932, in Brandon, where he received his early education.

Upon graduation from the University of Manitoba in 1953 he joined The Great-West Life Assurance company. He served Great-West in a variety of roles, becoming Director of Marketing Services in 1969 and, in 1973, Vice-President of Great-West's American operations in Denver, Colorado. In 1978 he returned to Winnipeg as Vice-President, Group Operations and shortly thereafter was elected President and Chief Executive Officer.

Great-West Life is now a very large corporation, but Kevin Kavanagh's aspirations have been less with making Great-West the biggest than with making it the best. He has seen the industry as having an intrinsic social role in assuring both saving and life benefits for its customers. Kevin Kavanagh, indeed, sees himself as being in the business of assurance. That attitude is reflected in the company's approach to its own employees: in 1986 the Financial Post, after extensive research, selected Great-West as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work for in Canada", citing, in particular, employee benefits, superior opportunities for women, job satisfaction and personal development.

A commitment to excellence has characterized Kevin Kavanagh's approach to community service. He has served on the Boards of the St. Boniface Hospital Research Foundation, the Winnipeg Clinic Foundation and the Winnipeg Symphony amongst others. He has been a member of the Board of Directors of The University of Manitoba Associates of the Faculty of Management. He has, in addition, served as Chair of the University's "Drive for Excellence" which has been the largest and most successful financial campaign in the University's history.

It is one, the benefits of which, will be shared by future generations of students, and indeed, by future generations of Manitobans generally. Kevin Kavanagh's unstinting role in the Drive for Excellence reflects a lifetime's commitment to excellence and to this, his own University.

In 1963, Kevin Kavanagh married Elizabeth ("Els") Mesman. Together they have been generous and active supporters of a range of community organizations and institutions.

Mr. Chancellor, it is an honour and a privilege for me to ask in the name of the Senate that you confer upon Mr. Kevin Patrick Kavanagh the Degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba