Two Memorial University honorary degree recipients have been recognized with one of the country’s highest honours.
For his contributions to industry and for his volunteerism and philanthropy in support of education, health care and community initiatives, Dr. Robert Crosbie was named a member of the Order of Canada. Dr. Crosbie received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Memorial in 2018.
For his contributions to educational initiatives and career development supporting Canada’s underserved populations, Dr. Donald Lawson was named a member of the Order of Canada. Dr. Lawson received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Memorial in 2017.
Julie Payette, the Governor General of Canada, announced the appointments on Dec. 27. Recipients will be invited to accept their insignia at a ceremony to be held at a later date.
Dr. Robert Crosbie
Robert Crosbie has excelled in business and made exceptional philanthropic contributions to Memorial University and Newfoundland and Labrador during his almost 40-year career.
Mr. Crosbie earned a bachelor of commerce degree from Memorial in 1979 and received the Institute of Corporate Directors designation in 2010. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Crosbie Group Ltd., a Newfoundland and Labrador fifth-generation family business dating back to the mid-1800s. Crosbie Group Ltd. consists of businesses in onshore industrial, real estate development, construction and offshore oil and gas services sectors in Atlantic Canada, as well as other non-operated investments across Canada and the United States.
Mr. Crosbie’s primary focus is the development of strategy for the group investments in addition to responsibility for the onshore industrial and offshore oil and gas services businesses.
Mr. Crosbie took on the role of chairman and chief executive officer in 1991 — a strenuous time for the company amidst a strained provincial economy. He stabilized the company and identified opportunities for growth in Newfoundland and Labrador’s then-emerging oil and gas industry.
Mr. Crosbie, along with his brothers and sister, continues to deepen the Crosbie family legacy of entrepreneurial ambition, public service and philanthropy throughout the province.
Since graduating from Memorial, Mr. Crosbie has been a steadfast supporter of the Faculty of Business Administration and the entire university. He has served on numerous committees for the faculty and is immediate past chair of the dean’s advisory board.
He is a strong supporter of student success programs at Memorial and has created a fund for students and career-planning initiatives. Over the years, he has extended support to various scholarships at Memorial and, in 1998, established the Robert Crosbie Scholarship of International Study. Mr. Crosbie also served as co-chair of the St. John’s regional volunteer committee for Memorial’s successful Dare To fundraising campaign.
Mr. Crosbie was honoured with the Faculty of Business Administration’s Alumnus of the Year Award in 2003; Memorial University’s J.D. Eaton Tribute Award in 2014; and Ernst Young’s Atlantic Canada Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016.
Dr. Donald Lawson
Born in Toronto, Ont., Donald Lawson has made his mark as a businessperson, but has matched those achievements with an outstanding and extensive record of community involvement and service.
Mr. Lawson joined the investment firm of Moss Lawson and Co. in 1950 and became a partner later that year. He served as president and chief executive officer of Moss Lawson from 1966-89, and then as its chairman.
After the firm was purchased by HSBC Securities (Canada), he continued as a financial advisor and honorary chairman until his retirement, after 58 years, in 2008.
Mr. Lawson is well known in the charity world for his role with the Counselling Foundation of Canada, a family-based foundation established by his father, Frank G. Lawson.
Since assuming the role of chairman of the Counselling Foundation in 1984, Mr. Lawson led the expansion and updating of the organization’s mandate, with innovative programming to reflect the changing needs of Canadians.
As chair of the foundation, Mr. Lawson has seen the charity’s assets grow from $23 million in 1984 to $62 million today. Since 1985 it has distributed about $85 million in support of learning and physical disabilities, counselling, youth employment centres, programs for encouraging educational development of disadvantaged urban youth and for the mentoring of rural youth.
At Memorial, Counselling Foundation initiatives include the Canadian Journal of Career Development, Tri-Mentoring and the Hi-Tech Career Centre.
In late 2015 he turned over the chair of the foundation to his eldest son, Douglas, and was given the title of chairman emeritus.
Mr. Lawson also has a 70-year association with the YMCA of Metropolitan Toronto. However, his involvement became much deeper when, in 1968, he was recruited to join the board and assume the role of chairman.
He helped articulate a vision of what a renewed Y could mean to the community, the human and physical infrastructure investments required and personally raised millions of dollars over the span of more than a decade, in what was then the largest capital campaign in the history of Canada.
In recognition of his service to the YMCA, in 1989 he was awarded the Canadian YMCA Fellowship of Honour Citation by the Governor General of Canada.
Mr. Lawson has been active in a number of other organizations, including Victoria University at the University of Toronto, the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, the United Church of Canada and Lawrence Park Community Church.
He has been recognized with honorary degrees from Victoria University and Dalhousie University; the Arbor Award for outstanding service by the University of Toronto; and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
About the Order of Canada
Created in 1967, the Order of Canada is one of the country’s highest honours. Presented by the Governor General, the Order honours people whose service shapes our society; whose innovations ignite our imaginations; and whose compassion unites our communities.
Close to 7,000 people from all sectors of society have been invested into the Order of Canada. Their contributions are varied, yet they have all enriched the lives of others and have taken to heart the motto of the Order: Desiderantes meliorem patriam (“They desire a better country”).
The striking six-point white enamel insignia they wear symbolizes Canada’s northern heritage and its diversity, because no two snowflakes are alike.