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Honorary degree citation - George Drummond Birks*

By: S. Appelbaum, June 1989

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you George Drummond Birks, an individual whose distinguished business career has gained the respect of Montrealers and of Canadians.

Born in Montreal in 1919, G. Drummond Birks was educated at Selwyn House School, St. Andrew's College in Aurora, Ontario, and received a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1940 from McGill University.

After spending five years in the military service in England and Europe with the Black Watch, he rejoined the family firm of Henry Birks and Sons Limited and became Assistant to the President in 1955. In 1959, he became Vice-President, and in 1972, President and Chief Executive Officer. This year, he assumed the position of Chairman of the Board.

G. Druinmond Birks has made a significant contribution to the Montréal business community, as evidenced by directorships with the Bank of Montreal Mortgage Corporation, CAE Industries Limited, the Royal Trust Company and Standard Life Assurance. He holds membership with Goldsmiths Hall and Freeman of City of London.

There are other notable accomplishments. He was elected a Governor of McGill University, and has served on the Foundations of the Université du Québec à Montréal and l'Université de Montréal. His community involvement is extensive. He has been a governor of the Montréal Children's Hospital and a trustee of its Foundation, a member of the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army, a patron of the Montréal Association for the Blind and a trustee of the YMCA Foundation.

In honouring George Drummond Birks here today, we also wish to pay tribute to the Birks family, which has had a long and distinguished association with the University, and which has always been one of our most avid supporters. Mr. Birks' great-uncle, Gerald Walker Birks, was President of the YMCA, and served on the Board of Governors of Sir George Williams University in the 1930s and 1940s. Birks Hall in the Norris Building bears his name. The Birks Medal is awarded each year to the highest ranking student graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and the Birks Family Foundation Scholarship Fund has long been available to Concordia students. Mr. G. Drummond Birks himself was an active contributor to our recently-completed Capital Campaign, where he served as Vice-Chairman of the Steering Committee.

Mr. Chancellor, it is a privilege to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, George Drummond Birks, so that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased

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