Today, we honour James B. Pitblado, a distinguished alumnus of the University of Manitoba, a national leader in Canadian business, a generous philanthropist, and a committed contributor to building a civil society through his support for health, education and the arts in Canada.
James Pitblado has deep roots in this community. He is a third generation alumnus of the University of Manitoba, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1953. Mr. Pitblado received an M.B.A. (Finance) from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and returned to Winnipeg to begin what was to become a most successful career in the securities business. After working at Great West Life for several years, he joined Harris & Partners which later merged with Dominion Securities where he became Executive Vice President. From 1981 to 1992 he served as Chairman and Head of Corporate Finance for RBC Dominion Securities. In addition to being a director of a number of national and international corporations, Mr. Pitblado contributed to the governance of his profession, serving as a member of the Board of Governors of the Toronto Stock Exchange and a member, as well as National Chairman, of the Board of the Investment Dealers Association of Canada.
Jim Pitblado and his wife, Sandra, are living examples of Winston Churchill's famous saying that while "we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give." Mr. Pitblado's stellar business career is matched by a long and distinguished record as patron of the arts, and active and generous supporter of health care and education. He currently serves as a Director of the Council for Business and the Arts in Canada, the Ontario Arts Council Foundation and Soulpepper Theatre Company. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Child Study at the University of Toronto and Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Rosedale United Church. Mr. Pitblado is past Chairman of both the Board of Trustees of the Hospital for Sick Children and its Foundation. He is also past Chairman of both the Board of Directors of the National Ballet of Canada and its Endowment Foundation and a past President of the Canadian Club.
In recognition of his many contributions to the quality of life in Canada, Mr. Pitblado was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1998. He also received the Edmund C. Bovey Award for leadership in business and the arts in 2000. Jim and Sandra Pitblado were named the outstanding Philanthropists of the year by the National Society of Fundraising Executives in 1999 and jointly received the Ramon John Hnatyshyn Award for Voluntarism in the Performing Arts in 2003.
The Pitblado family has historic connections with the University of Manitoba. Mr. Pitblado's grandfather, Isaac, was Chairman of our Board of Governors from 1917 to 1924. Isaac's son and Jim’s'father, Edward, graduated from the Manitoba Law School and together with his father was instrumental in the creation of the Alumni Association which he served as both President and representative on the Board of Governors. Both Isaac and Edward Pitblado had distinguished legal careers and their former firm continues today, still carrying the family name.
Jim and Sandra Pitbiado decided to honour his father and grandfather and recognize the family connection to the University of Manitoba through a remarkable gift to the Faculty of Law. In 2001 the Faculty articulated a strategic plan that would see Robson Hall become nationally recognized for excellence and leadership in learning, teaching and research in the law. That vision is grounded in a commitment to promote excellence, recognize achievement and develop facilities and programs that allow students and faculty to maximize their individual potential. Mr. and Mrs. Pitblado funded the nationally acclaimed Pitblado Scholars program; moreover, since its inception they have maintained a direct connection with the program and its students.
Mr. Pitblado encourages others with his confidence, empowers them through his support, and inspires them by his bold leadership and sincere personal commitment to community.
Mr. Chancellor, it is my honour and privilege to ask in the name of the Senate of the University of Manitoba, that you confer upon James B. Pitblado, the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.
-citation delivered by mentor, Professor Harvey Secter, Dean, Faculty of Law