McDougall: Build bridges to those around you

Look around. The next generation of Canadian leaders may be sitting next to you today, Don McDougall suggested to graduates at the afternoon session of Western’s 307th Convocation.

“Some of your current friends will be mayors, police chiefs, judges, MPs, MPPs, cabinet ministers, university presidents, chancellors, even premiers and prime ministers. Get to know them,” he said. “Networking and bridge-building is not hard work. It only requires sensitivity, an unselfish attitude and a little energy. Try it. it can make for a much more fulfilling life.”

McDougall spoke to graduates from King’s University College and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at the Tuesday, June 14, afternoon session of Western’s 307th Convocation.

Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, upon McDougall in recognition of his significant contributions across Canada through business, higher education, health care and sport.

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McDougall earned his MBA in 1961 at the Ivey Business School and, in 1973, after a series of other senior roles in almost a dozen successful local and national businesses, he became President at Labatt Brewing Company, one of Canada’s oldest and most recognizable companies founded in London a mere 169 years ago.

During his time at Labatt he was instrumental in bringing the Toronto Blue Jays into existence in 1976. He was the club’s founding director and was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2002.

A dedicated and life-long volunteer, McDougall served Western as member, vice-chair and chair (2004-5) of the Board of Governors, and as a member of the Ivey Advisory Board. He was a member and chair of the board of St. Joseph’s Health Care, a member of the University of Waterloo Stratford Campus Advisory Board and is currently Chancellor of the University of Prince Edward Island. McDougall served as chair of the board of King’s University College from 1978-80.

In his citation, King’s Principal David Sylvester said McDougall’s achievements extend well beyond the corporate world – being a champion of higher education.

“Don McDougall’s true legacy, however, should be measured by the many lives he has touched, including the young women and men he has supported and inspired,” Sylvester said. “There was a line of requests from friends, family and colleagues who wanted the honour of hooding Don today. Their desire to be part of this day, and to say ‘thank you’ to Don, speaks to the integrity of this man and the high regard in which they hold him.”

In addition to his induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, he is a member of the London Business Hall of Fame and the Prince Edward Island Business Hall of Fame. In 2012, the Government of Canada awarded him a Diamond Jubilee Medal.

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