I have the honour to present Mr. Albert Diamond Cohen, Member of the Order of Canada, a native son and a distinguished citizen of our province.
As Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gendis Incorporated, Albert Cohen's entrepreneurial success is almost without precedent in Canada. However, the mark of Albert Cohen is that his business success is equalled by his contribution to nation building.
Albert Cohen was the third of six sons of Alexander and Bereka Riva Cohen who came to Winnipeg at the turn of the century. He was born in 1914 and received all his formal education in the Province of Manitoba.
In 1939, together with his father, he founded General Distributors, now called Gendis Incorporated. He served his country in the Navy and rejoined the company at the close of the war. Truly a man of vision, he was the first North American to recognize the potential for the sale of Japanese Electronic Products in North America. In 1955 he established an early and unique connection with Japan when he purchased transistor radios from a tiny electronics firm which would eventually become known as Sony. Twenty years later Gendis and Sony became joint venture partners, the only such partnership Sony has in the world.
For one family to start with very little and create a business empire while making equally significant contributions to the charitable, educational and artistic communities in which they live ranks the Cohen family, with Albert as its head, as one of Canada's most distinguished families.
Albert Cohen is Past Commissioner of the Metric Board, a Past President of the Winnipeg Clinic Research Institute, a founding member of the Paul H. T. Thorlakson Research Foundation, Past President of the Manitoba Theatre Centre, and a Past Director of the Du Maurier Council for the Performing Arts. He continues as the Honorary Chairman of the St. John's Ravenscourt School and a Director of the Associates of The Faculty of Management. He was the Faculty's first recipient of the Distinguished Entrepreneur Award, founder of the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award and the person responsible for this prestigious annual event. Truly, he has shared his time, energy and wealth of talents with the community he leads.
He is an award winning author, whose book, The Entrepreneurs - The Study of Gendis Inc. was published by McClelland and Stewart in 1986.
In 1953, Albert Cohen married Irena Kankova. Together they have been ardent and generous supporters of Winnipeg's artistic institutions. They have three children, James, Anthony, and Anna Lisa.
Mr. Chancellor, it is an honour and a privilege for me to ask in the name of the Senate that you confer upon Mr. Albert Diamond Cohen, a true friend of The University of Manitoba, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by Arnold Naimark, President, University of Manitoba