Philanthropist, Concordia alumnus and founder of LaSalle College Jean-Paul Morin was a passionate driver of education in Quebec.
Morin died on August 24 in Montreal, at age 91, surrounded by his family. He is survived by his wife Carmen and his children Nicole, France and Paul.
Born in 1920 in Montreal’s Hochelaga district, he came from modest roots and built an exceptional life and career. While raising a family and working days, Morin studied part-time in the evenings at Sir George Williams University, one of Concordia’s founding institutions, earning his BComm in 1952. At the time, Sir George Williams was the only university to offer degree programs at night.
“My father was a born entrepreneur who was always involved with various organizations, including the Catholic Church and the Caisse Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Cœur-de-Ville-LaSalle (now Caisse Desjardins de LaSalle), which linked him to the world of business and to the community,” recalled his daughter Nicole Morin, in a phone interview.
In 1959, with a view to filling a need in the labour market and creating job opportunities for Quebecers, he founded LaSalle College, which opened its doors as a secretarial school. It expanded over the years to include programs in fashion — one of Morin’s lifelong passions — and later, in tourism, business and social sciences.
In 1995, LaSalle College partnered with Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) to form the École supérieure de mode de Montréal, offering internationally recognized bachelor programs in fashion marketing and design. The college now boasts 50 campuses around the world.
“My father was passionate about education,” says Nicole Morin, noting he also taught at the college. “Founding LaSalle College was his great success, to open the world of education to a lot of people.”
The family was incredibly touched by the testimonials of former students after his August 29 funeral. “They wanted us to know how much our father meant to them for having helped them pursue their dreams.”
“He was a man who devoted a lot of time to his professional life but in his personal life, he valued his family a great deal. He greatly enjoyed family gatherings,” says Morin’s daughter. “He loved to have a good time. He was also a fabulous dancer! We have a lot of wonderful memories of family celebrations.”
His daughter describes her family patriarch as a man of passion. “When he committed to something, it was all the way. He was very curious and interested in everything, especially world news and politics almost until the last week of his life,” says Nicole, who cared for him in his final years. “He would sit me down and ask ‘what’s going on in the world, talk to me.’ He wanted to be connected.”
Throughout his life, Morin was active in the community, serving in many organizations including the church, the LaSalle Chamber of Commerce, LaSalle Hospital Foundation, Mouvement Desjardins, HEC Montréal and Concordia University. After retirement, he volunteered for Suicide-Action Montreal and the Institut de réadaptation de Montréal.
In recognition of his leadership and commitment to his community, Concordia awarded Morin an honorary doctorate in 2003.
“It was the highlight of his professional life to be honoured in this way,” says Nicole Morin. He remained grateful to the university throughout his life and he was extremely proud to have his name associated with Concordia.”
Morin gave generously towards the construction of the John Molson School of Business Building, which opened in 2009. In recognition of his gift, a sixth-floor executive amphitheatre bears his name. He was also a major donor to LaSalle Hospital.
• Honorary Degree Citation for Jean-Paul Morin
• LaSalle College
• Concordia’s John Molson School of Business