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Honorary degree citation - Matthew W. Barrett

By: Charles Draimin, November 1994

Mr Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Matthew Barrett, an eminent banker and community leader. Mr Barrett is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Bank of Montreal.

Matthew Barrett was born and educated in Ireland. At the end of high school he joined the Bank of Montreal in London, England. Except for one brief period, he has been with the bank ever since.

La Banque de Montréal, comme chacun le sait, est une grande entreprise, polyvalente et diversifiée. Matthew Barrett y a progressivement gravi tous les échelons, jusqu'aux postes les plus élevés. De simple apprenti commis, il est devenu caissier avant de passer aux ressources humaines puis de revenir à des postes de premier plan, jusqu'au sommet.

Matthew Barrett has not limited himself to banking. He has served on the boards and campaigns of numerous public service organizations including the Royal Victoria Hospital The Conference Board of Canada, and the Council for Canadian Unity, among others, demonstrating his competence and his commitment in many ways.

There is a rumour that Matt Barrett studied at Sir George Williams University in the late 1960s. It is true; he enrolled in night courses in the bachelor of commerce program. But we cannot take too much credit for his present success. He did not continue very long in our program and did not take a degree. Not surprisingly, those few courses did not make too deep an impression on Matthew Barrett. Much more clearly than the courses he must have taken in our old Drummond Street quarters, he remembers buying books, the textbooks prescribed for an MBA program. De sa propre initiative, il s'est mis à lire avec intérêt ces manuels du programme de MBA, non sans demander quelquefois l'aide de ses collègues de la banque. De ces lectures, il a retenu deux ou trois grands principes. On peut en conclure, d'une part, que Matthew Barrett n'était pas un sujet ordinaire et, d'autre part, que les livres sont à la base de tout savoir digne de ce nom. Imaginez à présent ce que cet insatiable curieux aurait accompli s'il avait effectivement fait son baccalauréat en commerce!

Matthew Barrett may not have completed his education in the conventional manner, but that does not mean that he has not recognised the value of higher education. Apart from his brief time at Sir George Williams, Matt Barrett has spent considerable time at universities. He completed the Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program in 1981. Currently, he is associated with the University of Western Ontario as a director of the Program Advisory Committee, with York University as a member of the Faculty of Administrative Studies' Advisory Council. He is also chairman of the University of Waterloo's Capital Campaign. Finally, and not least, he is the recipient of honourary degrees from St. Mary's University, Bishop's University and York University.

Mr Chancellor, it is a great honour and privilege for me to present to you, on behalf of the Senate and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Matthew Barrett, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of laws, honoris causa.

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