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Fall is in the air

Alan Shepard sends message to all alumni and celebrates successes of the year so far
September 3, 2014
By Alan Shepard

The leaves may still be green in Montreal, but fall is in the air. At Concordia, we’re preparing to make this an outstanding year as we mark the 40th anniversary of the union of our two founding institutions at Homecoming, September 18-22.

Two of our students recently won Best Project at the Shell Ideas360 student competition in Amsterdam for Skywell, a simple device that captures moisture from the air in arid regions. At the same time, we continue to celebrate our successes of the past year. Our alumni, professors and students brought home three Olympic gold medals, a Prix du Québec, an Emmy and an Academy Award.

And graduates of our Faculty of Fine Arts received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two Jutra Awards, two Governor General’s Awards and the first ever Contemporary Art Award given by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, a prize worth $100,000.

What’s more, 2013-14 was Concordia’s strongest year ever for research funding. What a great year!  

In Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto, we partnered once again with The Globe and Mail for our Thinking Out Loud conversation series and with The Walrus for our Walrus Talks events. The sessions examined everything from climate change to media clutter to human rights.

Hosting such events promotes our mission — developing and sharing ideas — and strengthens Concordia's reputation in the world.

In July we learned that Concordia will host one of five global hubs for Future Earth. This agency of the United Nations will be an international site devoted to research on a broad range of scientific and policy questions focused on sustainability. Hosting this hub is a coup for both Concordia and Montreal.

It was also a strong year for philanthropy, with major gifts coming from Formula Growth Limited, the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Family Foundation, the R. Howard Webster Foundation and the Queen of Angels Academy Foundation.

Like every year, of course, 2014-15 will bring us some challenges and opportunities. One looming challenge is the fiscal situation in Quebec and its impact on the university sector. We appreciate the support the Government of Quebec provides Concordia. Still, the year ahead will present financial hurdles.

Concordia now counts 188,000 alumni, with some 5,300 new members welcomed at our June convocations. This moment of transition to life after Concordia is when connections matter most. And successful universities have a sort of kin culture — graduates look out for each other.

I urge you to welcome these newest members to the Concordia alumni family however you can. You might help them network and connect with opportunities, offer them career advice or even a job. By building bridges between generations of alumni, we will ensure Concordia and Canada thrive for decades to come.

I always welcome news and views from our alumni. Write to me directly at

I would also like to personally invite you to join us at Homecoming this September 18-22, when a wide variety of events will take place around our two campuses. I hope to hear your success stories as you reconnect with old friends.

You will find our events schedule at See you there!

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