Honorary degree recipient Brad Bennett tells his story to UBC’s Okanagan grads
Brad Bennett’s passion for his province and his university drove him to achieve success as a business leader and community builder. Upon being conferred with an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus Convocation ceremonies, Bennett said he accepts the recognition with a profound sense of humility.
“I know the passion of trying to do the right thing for the right reason,” Bennett told graduates who are among a record 1,174 students receiving degrees in five ceremonies over two days. “I want to leave you with an idea of how I set my own moral compass and what drives me to what I do in life.”
Bennett told graduates his first rule in life is to do the right thing, because it always results in a positive outcome. Secondly, he advised students to be risk takers.
“Understand that most people fail in life because they are afraid to take a risk.” He said, recounting former UBC President Martha Piper telling him about taking on the job to head the university, despite not knowing what the future held in store.
“Sometimes in life a door will open. It will only open once and then it will be closed to you forever. You have to decide at the moment … And I am so happy I walked through that door.”
UBC President Stephen Toope called Bennett a visionary leader with a deep commitment to his community and province. Bennett served as Chair of UBC’s Board of Governors during some of the most turbulent economic times as well as during an exciting period of growth and opportunity for the university.
“Mr. Bennett has a long and distinguished record of leadership in business and higher education in British Columbia. And he has a long family tradition of serving his community,” Toope said, calling Bennett “truly a visionary leader and community builder.”
In his remarks, Toope congratulated students both for their achievements and for choosing UBC for their studies. “Your graduation comes at an auspicious moment,” Toope told graduates. “To finish a serious program of studies and to reach this happy occasion is a real achievement and also a signal of your continuing ambitions to make something of yourself and to make a difference in our world.
“UBC’s Okanagan campus shares your ambition,” Toope said. “When this great adventure was conceived only six years ago, it was because of a group of forward thinking leaders in this community — people like Brad Bennett, who worked with UBC leaders like Martha Piper and the province to create a university where young people and lifelong learners in the Valley would have opportunity, but also to create a research environment to attract talent and to help transform the economic future of the Okanagan.”
Toope noted that in only six short years, UBC’s Okanagan campus has served as a magnet to attract dynamic young people and experienced professionals from across Canada and around the world.
“UBC is also balancing the independent identity of this campus with the strength that participation in a bigger system produce,” he said. “This is both the Okanagan version of UBC and UBC itself, with incredible resources and a global reputation for excellence.”
Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal Doug Owram told students that graduation is a milestone they will never forget.
“You succeeded. That’s why you are here today,” he said. “You have the education. You have the ability. Whether you’re going on to graduate school or on to a career, remember two things: Remember the success you had as a student and confidence for the future and use your talents in education to make a difference as well as a career.”
Chancellor Sarah Morgan-Silvester told students that books and writings have been her inspiration to learn. She referred to songwriter Paul McCartney vividly drawing the distinction between passionate intensity and practical reality for providing a useful life lesson.
“The discipline involved in a practical reality is difficult to achieve,” Morgan-Silvester said.
“Practical reality can lead to success with those passionate interests.”
Convocation continues Friday with three ceremonies at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 pm.
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