Stephen Smith honoured at Spring Convocation

Receives honorary degree and shares some hard-won lessons with Commerce grads and their guests

Queen’s alumnus and generous benefactor, Stephen J.R. Smith, received an honorary degree from Queen’s on May 30 at the convocation ceremony for Commerce, MSc and PhD grads. He was recognized by Chancellor Jim Leech, MBA’73, as one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs in the financial services industry and for his avid support of post-secondary education, the arts and history. He is Chair of Historica Canada and a Governor of the Royal Ontario Museum and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to Canada. 

In his convocation address, Stephen shared the story of some of the serious setbacks he has faced in his long and distinguished career in business. His parting words to the graduates bear repeating.

"Real success is the joy of doing something, and doing it well. Everything else will fall into place around that. You will continue to learn throughout your life. Your definition of success will change. Your destination may change as well. All the goals you have set for yourself will blur a bit around the edges. The path that seems so clear and straight will have detours and delays, and you may find yourself on an entirely different road. I’m not, after all, where I might have thought I would be when I enrolled here to study electrical engineering.

The one constant will be the journey. It’s what counts far more than the destination. Get it right, embrace it – and even in tough times, be grateful for the parts of life that are going well. Success will mean different things to all of you, and come in different ways. Good luck and good travels to you all."

Dr. Stephen J.R. Smith,
BSc(Eng)’72, LLD’17