The story of Susan Jane Glass is the story of a small-town girl, who, once dazzled by Broadway, returned home to become the guiding light of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. For two decades she has devoted herself to supporting the arts in Canada by serving governing boards across the country, raising funds, advocating and volunteering. Ms Glass’ name is synonymous with community service - and fun: she rides a custom, leopard-print Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Ms Glass was thirteen when she left Prince Albert, Saskatchewan for Winnipeg. She came with her mother, the late Helen Glass, who obtained her nursing certificate here, and whose name graces the University of Manitoba's College of Nursing building.
From here, they went on to New York City. Live theatre captivated Ms Glass during her high school years and later inspired her to channel her energy and talent toward the arts. What she did with her life after high school now seems like a dress rehearsal before the performance: Ms Glass obtained a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba and spent fifteen years with Air Canada doing computer systems management and marketing -valuable skills she later used as a leader and fundraiser in the non-profit sector. Then, in the early 1980's, the dress rehearsal became the show. Ms Glass turned her attention toward her first passion, the arts.
For more than twenty years, Ms Glass lent her indomitable spirit and inspiring leadership to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as a board member, chair, and volunteer fundraiser. She has been governor of The Banff Centre and the prestigious Shaw Festival, chair of the Canadian Arts Summit, and committee co-chair for the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards. Currently, Ms Glass is vice-chair of the National Arts Centre and a board member of many other arts groups. She has also lent her expertise to several local institutions, including the University of Manitoba and St. Boniface General Hospital.
In 2008, the Association of Fundraising Professionals named Ms Glass and her entrepreneur husband, Arni Thorsteinson, Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers in Manitoba. In 2009, she received Canada’s highest honour, an appointment as a Member of the Order of Canada for her inspiring service to the arts and to Winnipeg.
The University of Manitoba is delighted to celebrate Ms Glass for her dedication to the local and national arts communities, and for her commitment to Winnipeg, as a supporter of the University of Manitoba, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, the United Way, and many other institutions.
In bestowing Ms Glass with a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, the University of Manitoba commends her longstanding generosity and determination to make Winnipeg, and Canada, a finer place for artists, and a better place for all citizens.