President’s Installation Remarks

University of Windsor
Fall Convocation 2019
Dr. Robert Gordon
October 19, 2019

Chancellor Haddad, Board of Governors Chair Willis, distinguished guests, colleagues, friends, family and, more importantly, graduates. Welcome.

Many of you have travelled great distances to be here today. You’ve come from other communities, provinces and countries. Thousands of others are also joining us through a livestream of our Convocation ceremony. So welcome everyone to the University of Windsor.

It’s certainly a great thrill and honour to be here today to recognize all of our exceptional graduates — the more than 400 wonderful faces I see before me this morning. And what an incredible sight — graduates of every age, from different backgrounds, with different interests and different hopes and dreams for the future.

On behalf of everyone at the University of Windsor, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to all of you on the significance of your achievements.

During your time at the University of Windsor, you have shown determination, persistence and dedication and we are truly proud … in fact — Windsor Proud.

And although we have come from many places, today we are one large University of Windsor family — our graduates are joined by their friends, parents, siblings and grandparents. Your University of Windsor family also includes our incredible faculty and staff who have made sure this moment will be everything it should be for each of you.

Indeed, today is an important milestone — for us all.

Graduates, you’ve completed an initial signpost on your lifelong journey. From here perhaps the next steps are to go to graduate school, perhaps time to travel abroad or perhaps a significant employment opportunity in the near future. No matter your course, remember that you will forever be part of this University’s past, present and future.

Parents and other family members of our graduates, I can see the pride you all share in our graduates and their accomplishments. It’s your commitment and continued support that has helped to make everything that we celebrate today possible, and I want to personally thank you; today is also your day. So thank you very much.

Today is also a milestone for me; my first “official” day on the job — in fact, my first “official” few minutes at the University of Windsor. It’s a tremendous honour and privilege to be chosen to serve as the President and Vice-Chancellor of this great institution, and to contribute to the broader Windsor-Essex community. I’m grateful that you have allowed me to share in your special day, and I’m committed to doing my best to build on the hard work of others — past and present — throughout our institution.

I’m delighted that my life journey has led me here to Windsor. Like many of you, I owe a debt of gratitude to those who helped me along the way. Family, friends, and colleagues, several who are here today, have provided support, guidance and mentorship over the years. You all have played an essential role in my growth, experience, adaptability and passion for impactful and student-focused post-secondary education. So thank you very much.

In particular, I would like to thank my family including my parents Bob and Jean Gordon, my siblings Karen and Trevor, and my children Emily and Hannah. I would also like to sincerely thank my mother and father-in-law Dave and Marilyn Randall. Most of all however, I want to thank my wife, Sarina Randall, for always being there for me for the past 27 years of marriage, for supporting me while I finished my own university education and for being here today, at this juncture along our long and winding road.

I never imagined, growing up in Nova Scotia, with my sights set on being a future wide-receiver for the New England Patriots — well before the Tom Brady era — that I would be standing before you here today. I suppose you could say I am living proof of the importance of keeping yourself open to new ideas, to changing directions, and to taking chances.

So, to all of our exceptional graduates, no matter what you do in the future, continue to exert your talents, distinguish yourself, take advantage of the opportunities that come your way, and please leave your mark on this world.

And while it might seem that when today ends, we will all set out on our separate journeys, that’s really not the case.

All of you who will walk across this stage in the next few minutes — on your way to fulfilling individual goals and aspirations — will always share something in common. You will forever be alumni of this great institution.

You will be joining the University of Windsor family, with its 140,000 graduates from more than 120 countries.

As alumni, you are the lifeblood of our University and will have a profound effect on this institution well beyond your graduation today.

You can contribute and give back in many ways, from being involved with the Alumni Association to providing support and mentorship to current and future students which in turn enhances their student experience and eventual success.

Alumni engagement should last a lifetime. One of my goals as President involves strengthening the connection between you and the University, no matter where your life journey takes you, whether it be here in Windsor-Essex or beyond.

I also want to place greater emphasis on the important role our alumni play in the broader Windsor-Essex community. Our University is a major economic engine of Windsor-Essex and that role will only become more important in the future.

Graduates like all of you, here today, are leaving here “workforce ready” with an immediate capacity to contribute to supporting the growth and sustainability of our communities and region. This is a role we take very seriously and will continue to take seriously.

Our innovative and relevant programs that you have all been part of, as well as our important research and service, translate into impactful opportunities for Windsor-Essex, our province, our country and beyond.

Whether it’s addressing challenges related to the Great Lakes or to our national borders; or helping ensure safe and healthy communities or promoting the environment and sustainable manufacturing, we can make a difference at the University of Windsor.

You — our graduates — are the foundation that we rely on to build on a commitment to excellence that exists throughout our exceptional institution.

So please consider giving back to this incredible region and community, though your time, your knowledge, and your leadership.

The final thought I want to leave you with today is the meaning of the term “Windsor Proud” — a campaign that you have seen grow and take hold as students during your time here.

Being “Windsor Proud” is a declaration of confidence - confidence in yourselves; in our University; and in our community. It’s about independence, friendships and collaborations.

The University of Windsor is a place where our students, staff, faculty, friends and partners, locally and internationally, are proud of what we have made, of what we have built, and of what we are creating for the future.

The “Windsor Proud” campaign is an opportunity to continue to communicate all of these things — and more.

I know that you will take your confidence and your experiences at the University of Windsor with you after today:

  • You have all worked very hard;
  • The future is now yours;
  • Let your pride flourish;
  • But also remember to listen to others;
  • Be focused;
  • Continue to participate;
  • Take action;
  • Set goals throughout your life;
  • Be true to yourself;
  • Help others; and
  • Remember that sometimes it’s the journey and not the destination.

You have a world of possibilities in front of you; open yourselves to them; and leave your mark on this world.

Congratulations to you all. Thank you and best wishes.