Honorary degree citation - James M. Stanford
By: Mohsen Anvari, June 2000
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you James Stanford, recently retired chairman, president and chief executive officer of Petro-Canada, and founder and president of the newly established Stanford Resource Management Incorporated.
James Stanford was born in Montreal and spent his early years here, moving to Calgary with his family at the age of nine. He later returned to our city, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in mining from Loyola College, one of Concordia's two founding institutions.
During his college days, Alberta's oil industry was booming and when he was offered a summer job on an oil rig near Calgary, he accepted and has been involved with the oil industry ever since. Two years later, after completing a second undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Alberta, he was offered a position at Mobil Oil Canada. He spent the next 19 years with the Canadian subsidiary of U.S. oil giant Mobil Corporation, in a succession of engineering and managerial positions.
In 1978, Mr. Stanford made a momentous and risky business decision. He left the security and seniority of his position at Mobil to join the fledgling Petro-Canada as general manager of conventional oil and gas production. His arrival came at a difficult time for the Crown Corporation. With the implementation of the controversial National Energy Program, followed within months by a crash in oil prices, Petro-Canada became a symbol of political and economic oppression for many disaffected Westerners.
But Jim Stanford believed in the mission set out at the corporation's creation and stayed with it despite mounting criticism. He felt it was important to establish a powerful Canadian flagship institution in a key industry that might otherwise be dominated by foreign interests.
His vision and tenacity moved him quickly through the company ranks. Two years after joining Petro-Canada, he was named Vice-President of Production, and the following year he became Senior Vice-President of Production.
In 1990, he was appointed President and Chief Operating Officer and, in 1993, became Chief Executive Officer. He took the helm at a critical time for the Crown Corporation. The federal government's ownership began to drop off in 1991, and the company began to function largely as a private one. With this change, came others. Under his stewardship, Petro-Canada was effectively restructured. He reorganized the work force, implemented a new management system designed to cut through bureaucracy and eliminate inefficiencies and brought a sense of small-business entrepreneurship to the company. Today, he remains a driving force within the company, continuing to serve as a member of its Board of Directors,
Jim Stanford is also an active member of the community at large. He is a past member of the Business Council on National Issues, the Task Force on the National Economy, the Task Force on the Environment and the Canadian Government's Y2K Task Force. He also sits on the boards of directors of NOVA Chemicals Corporation, Inco Ltd., Fortis Inc. and the Canadian Wheat Board, and is a past governor on the board of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
Mr. Stanford is also active in the artistic community. He is a past Chairman of the Calgary Philharmonic Society Board and an honorary member of the board of the Alberta Theatre Projects. He is on the Alberta Performing Arts Stabilization Board and is Chair of its Awards Committee. In 1992, he was awarded the 125' Anniversary of Confederation Commemorative Medal, in recognition of his commitment to public service.
He also maintains close ties with his two alma maters. He is a member of the Board of Governors at the University of Alberta, which yesterday awarded him an honorary doctorate at its spring convocation.
Mr. Stanford is a tireless supporter of Concordia University. During our recent and highly successful capital fundraising campaign, he was a lead volunteer for the Western Division, hosted alumni events in Calgary, and encouraged his business colleagues to support the University. He also brought the Petro-Canada Young Innovator Award to Concordia, thereby creating an endowment to provide research funding to young researchers who are working on environmental issues for the betterment of our society.
Mr. Chancellor, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, James Stanford, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.