Kevin McCormick, President and Vice-Chancellor of Huntington University, is this year’s recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship. The award is the highest honour that Rotary can grant to an individual, and was bestowed upon McCormick, by both the Sunrisers and Rotary Club of Sudbury, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to Greater Sudbury, country and globe. The award is named after Rotary’s founder and is given to individuals whose outstanding contributions best exemplify Rotary’s motto – Service Above Self.
“I am truly humbled by this honour, as community service and volunteering with amazing people in support of others has always been extremely important to me,” said McCormick. “I would like to thank all of the inspirational community leaders, innovative organizations on local, national and international levels, that I’ve had the privilege and honour of working with for decades. I am also extremely fortunate to work with incredible and passionate community advocates in Greater Sudbury and Northern Ontario who are committed to human rights and social justice for everyone.”
Since 1960, Huntington University has promoted the importance of excellence in learning alongside community service. McCormick is not only a champion for education, he is also a local hero who has demonstrated unwavering dedication to the numerous personal causes he supports.
At present he is the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada - second Battalion, a Patron of St. John Ambulance - Ontario Council, and also devotes much of his time and talent to support organizations at the local, provincial and national levels, such as Maison Vale Hospice, Vitanova Foundation, United Way, Sudbury Theatre Centre, Sudbury Food Bank, Access Aids Network, and Big Brothers / Big Sisters.
Working independently and voluntarily McCormick often invests his own personal funds towards initiatives that support veterans and military families, refugees, and educational awareness campaigns for teachers, learners and scholars in developing countries such as Laos, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Myanmar-Burma.
Internationally recognized as a humanitarian of distinction, McCormick has also worked to promote human rights in India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and Laos. In addition, he has raised significant funds in support of international aid agencies such as UNICEF and UNHCR, leading him to be recognized by the United Nations, numerous governments and human rights agencies.
McCormick is the recipient of countless awards in recognition of his volunteerism, as well as his educational and philanthropic contributions. These include, to name but a few: the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubiliee Medals awarded by the Governor General of Canada, the Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship, the Community Builders Award for Excellence in Education, and Canadian Professor of the Year. HLCol McCormick is also an Officer in the Order of St. John - one of Canada’s five national honours. He has also been recognized with numerous citations from local governments, and the offices of both the Prime Minister of Canada and the Premier of Ontario. In 2011 he was named a Member of the Most Honourable Order of the Crown of Thailand, by the King, for his contributions to international education and humanitarianism.
McCormick wins CBA for Education, 2014
For students on a paper chase to get an education they hope will ensure success, happiness and riches, the president of Huntington University’s vision of education may be surprising.
Education, Dr. Kevin McCormick believes, should empower students and teachers with the inspiration to reach beyond the classroom and engage them in their community with a purpose to help make it a better place to live and learn.
He walks the talk. For the past eight years, McCormick has been an inspiring leader to faculty, staff and students. He has extended Huntington’s influence in the community, province, Canada and around the world. He has donated his time, talent and money to projects that benefit many at home and in developing countries.
Huntington professor Kristeen McKee refers to McCormick as “Sudbury’s educational ambassador.”
In her nomination letter, she wrote,“Kevin is a local, provincial, national and global advocate for the city’s educational partners and the dynamic programs they have developed. When examining his commitment to profiling Sudbury on the international stage, you can see he is a sought-after speaker at conferences.”
“On the provincial and national levels, Kevin is also incredibly active representing our community serving on various boards including being the first president of a post-secondary institution to be named to the province’s Post-Secondary Quality Assessment Board, in recognition of his reputation as an educational visionary and passion advocate of Northern Ontario.”
At Huntington, McCormick championed the creation of the Lougheed Centre, Northern Ontario’s first Centre of Excellence in Teaching and Learning. Its mandate is to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in Northern Ontario through integrated communications, academic conferences, workshops and initiative such as the Northern Ontario Award for Educational Leadership.
He is also the founder of the Canadian Institute for International Policing (CIIP), the first of its kind in Canada.
Former Greater Sudbury police chief Frank Elsner worked with McCormick. “CIIP was Dr. McCormick’s vision to create a national centre for the development of international opportunities for Canadian police and an international platform to draw global attention to highly innovative programs and initiatives that multiple police agencies can implement throughout the nation,” Elsner says.
Born and raised in Toronto, McCormick studied sociology at York University and taught at Georgian College in Barrie. In 1999 he was named Canada’s Professor of the Year (College Sector).
He had a variety of jobs at Georgian including dean of the Institute for University Partnerships and Advance Studies. He negotiated articulation agreements between Huntington, Laurentian University and Georgian.
He visited Sudbury numerous times and “found out what a great community it was.” When it was presented, he enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to move north of Barrie.
He had been president of Huntington for eight years.
“I can honestly say it’s the best decision of my life. It was a great opportunity from the beginning. The community was welcoming.”
His wife, Renee, is a financial planner and they have two sons, Christopher, 15, and William, 12.
McCormick is a former campaign chair for United Way and has volunteered his time to numerous causes. He was recently named to a second term as the Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of Sudbury’s Second Battalion, Irish Regiment.
In this capacity, he started Project Honour and Preserve. He researches and purchases military medals that have been sold at auction. If he can, he returns them to the recipients’ families. He does this on his own and at his own expense.
In July 2014, he will make a donation of medals in Ottawa to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
The university president and vice-chancellor has passion for learning. His interest in all things led him to work with refugees overseas.
“For more than a decade, Kevin has travelled around the world donating his time and personal money to establish educational programs for refugees from various communities such as India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia,” says McKee.
Regarding his work with refugees, McCormick says, “I am not there because I support a partisan struggle. These people have nothing.”
At 48, McCormick is a member of a small but growing club of Canadian university presidents who are under the age of 50.
“I work with some truly amazing faculty, staff and students, a great network to learn with and learn from. I love what I do and do what I love.
“I am very well compensated for something I love. I need to give back in a meaningful way to me and and meaningful to the community and one that has a message,” he says.