KPU names new chancellor, awards four honorary degrees

Mon, Oct 6, 2014

Metro Vancouver, B.C. – Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) has a new chancellor.

Last Wednesday, Dr. George Melville – chairman and owner of Boston Pizza International – was officially installed for a three-year term as the university’s second chancellor.

The event marked the beginning of a new chapter for Melville, who has already had a long and successful relationship with KPU.

He served as a member of the university’s board of governors for six years, where he helped guide KPU’s transition from a community college to a university. In 2012, he and his wife Sylvia donated $500,000 to create the Melville Centre for Dialogue at KPU Richmond. 

And just last year, he received an honorary doctor of laws from the university.

KPU presented four honorary degrees to distinguished citizens during the institution’s fall convocation ceremonies last week. Former chancellor Arvinder Bubber, Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation president and CEO Jane Adams, former Surrey School District superintendent Mike McKay and Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts were each recognized for their outstanding contributions to the community.

Bubber has been KPU’s chancellor since 2008. He grew up in the Punjab region of India, raised by parents with no higher than a Grade 10 education. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Panjab University in 1971, before immigrating to England, where he became a chartered accountant (CA). Bubber moved to Canada in 1976 and B.C. in 1991, where he opened his own accounting firm, A.S. Bubber and Associates in Surrey.

Bubber credits his work as a CA with opening doors and providing opportunities to give back to others. While active with organizations such as the Fraser Health Authority, the Surrey Board of Trade and the Premier’s Asia Pacific Trade Council (vice-chair), he has often said education is his real passion.

With the SMH Foundation since 2007, Adams has a long history of successful hospital fundraising campaigns. These include the SMHF Tulips for Tomorrow campaign, which raised $15 million for the hospital’s new emergency centre, and the 100 Days to Give campaign, which generated $10 million for the Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre.

Prior to joining SMHF, Adams was executive director of the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation for nine years. Under her leadership, St. Paul’s Hospital grew its receipted revenue from $2 million to $10 million and developed a number of marquis campaigns, most notably the annual Lights of Hope, which raises about $2.3 million every year for the hospital.

McKay retired from the Surrey School District last year, but remains project director for the Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative, official trustee for the Cowichan Valley School District until board elections in November and strategic advisor to the Ministry of Education – roles that align with his passion for public education and helping all students activate their potential. He is also an associate at Circle Square Solutions, a consulting team led by former minister of education George Abbott.

During his tenure with the Surrey School District, student success rates improved at all levels, and McKay became known for his mantra, “every child, every chance, every day.”

Under McKay’s leadership, student learning in the Surrey School District deepened to include critical thinking and problem-solving skills, adaptability and agility, initiative and entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, and curiosity and imagination.

Watts has been a catalyst for innovation in Surrey, redefining the role of Surrey mayor from one who is exclusively responsible for civic infrastructure to an all-encompassing leadership position that champions Surrey through collaboration between the various government, social service, economic, non-profit and community interests.

Elected the city’s first female mayor in 2005 after nine years as a city councillor, Watts was re-elected in 2008 and 2011. She has spearheaded several key strategies, including the Economic Investment Action Plan and the Build Surrey Program, which is the largest construction and investment program in the city’s history. She has also been a driving force behind the formation of Innovation Boulevard, a network of health institutions, universities, companies and medical professionals located within one square mile in Surrey’s City Centre.

She also introduced the Crime Reduction Strategy, the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Housing and Homelessness Master Plan, which have resulted in funding six outreach workers and creating 67 beds at the Phoenix Treatment Facility, 36 supportive units for single moms and children at the YWCA, 52 units at the Timber Grove Mental Health Centre and 92 units at the Quibble Creek Sobering Centre.

Honorary degrees are awarded to those honoris causa in recognition of dignified achievements or outstanding service to the public. Nominees are exceptionally distinguished scholars, creative artists, public servants, people prominent in the community and the professions, and others who have made significant contributions locally, nationally or globally. Members of the community-at-large are invited to nominate honorary degree candidates.

Photos of the honorary degree recipients are available on KPU’s Flickr page.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region since 1981, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates citations and apprenticeships. Learn more at


Caption: (From left) KPU Chancellor Dr. George Melville with President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alan Davis, and honorary degree recipient Arvinder Bubber, who served the university for six years as its first chancellor.

Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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