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Concordia trailblazer Gina Cody named to Order of Canada

Distinction recognizes impact of four Concordians on engineering, philanthropy and society
December 30, 2020
By Ian Harrison, BComm 01

A remarkable series of achievements in higher education, engineering and business have been recognized with our country’s highest distinction.

Concordia graduate and benefactor Gina Cody, MEng 81, PhD 89, was named to the Order of Canada on December 30, 2020.

Gina Cody (centre) with students enrolled in the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science.

Andrew Molson, co-chair of the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now was also appointed to the order for his commitment to business and for his philanthropy in support of Montreal's education, arts and health sectors. Molson serves as chairman of the AVENIR GLOBAL.

Additionally, Geoff Molson, director at the Molson Foundation, was appointed to the order for his entrepreneurial leadership and for his philanthropic contributions, notably through the family’s foundation and other local organizations. Geoff Molson volunteers at the John Molson School of Business

Another Concordian noted for his volunteering, Guy Berthiaume, former Librarian and Archivist of Canada, was appointed for his contribution to society, including membership on the Board of Directors at Concordia University Press

A next-gen Concordian

As the namesake of Concordia’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science (GCS), Cody was nominated, in part, by Helen Antoniou, chair of Concordia’s Board of Governors.

“I am proud to advocate for an inspiring alumna such as Gina, who serves as an example to those who follow in her footsteps,” Antoniou said. “She has gone beyond the status quo in pursuit of a fair, just society, where women equally belong in professional roles that have long been male-dominated.”

Presented by the Governor General of Canada, the Order of Canada recognizes outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.

Born Parvaneh Baktash in Tehran, Iran, Gina Cody immigrated to Montreal in 1979 with $2,000 to her name and a plan to attend graduate school.

She completed her master’s degree at Concordia in 1981 — where she met her future husband, Thomas Cody, MBA 83 — and went on to become the first woman to earn a PhD in building engineering from the university.

In 2018, Cody’s conviction in the power of education and gratitude to her alma mater led her to donate an unprecedented $15 million — in support of the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now — to Concordia and the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science.

“Concordia gave Gina Cody an opportunity that other universities did not,” said Concordia President Graham Carr. “After earning her PhD, Gina blazed many new trails. She innovated in her profession and became a business leader in a field dominated by men.”

Gina Cody in her school days at Concordia Gina Cody in her school days at Concordia

Following her 2018 gift to Concordia, Cody notably became the first woman in Canada to have an engineering and computer science faculty named after her. “Generations of Concordia students will benefit from her generosity and vision,” said Carr. “The Order of Canada — the highest distinction in our country — recognizes Gina’s impact on her profession and our society.”

Paul Chesser, BA 94, GrDip 97, vice-president of Advancement, said alumni, students, faculty and staff are galvanized by Cody, who advocates for philanthropy as co-chair of the Campaign for Concordia.

“Gina’s appointment to the Order of Canada is well deserved and is sure to energize the next generation of Concordians to attain their own dreams and professional achievements.”

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