Dr. Geoff Cumming advises grads to never lose their sense of aspiration

On Monday morning (June 6) we held the convocation ceremony for the 2016 University of Calgary graduates in Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and Nursing. During this ceremony, we also conferred an honorary degree on Geoffrey Cumming, the Calgary businessman who provided one of the largest philanthropic gifts ever given to a Canadian university. With this gift, Geoff wishes to spur research breakthroughs in the fields of brain and mental health, as well as infections, inflammation and chronic diseases.

Geoffrey Cumming - business leader, economist and philanthropist who has provided transformational support for medical education and research at the University of Calgary - receives an honorary degree.

Geoffrey Cumming – business leader, economist and philanthropist who has provided transformational support for medical education and research at the University of Calgary – receives an honorary degree.

I noted that Senator Anwar Haq sat amongst the platform party. Anwar is the past Executive Director of the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine. I asked Anwar if he would share his thoughts about convocation as well as some of the highlights of Geoff Cumming’s address to the graduands. This is what Anwar had to say about this remarkable man who is passionate about global leadership and the mentoring of young people:

Monday was a busy and exciting day as the 2016 classes of the Faculties of Medicine, VetMed, Nursing and others were graduating. It was exciting not only for faculty and staff, but also for the parents, friends and families of the graduands. Another key highlight of the convocation was the awarding of an honorary degree to Geoffrey Cumming.

I have had several opportunities in the past to interact with Geoff. Each time was an inspirational and humbling experience for me. At first you might not notice Geoff standing in one corner of a meeting hall, but his curious scan of the room and pleasant smile compels you to walk up and talk to him. Apart from general conversation about our School of Medicine, his eyes would glitter while talking about the students and their potential toward creating a better world. This unique perspective was one of the reasons I was particularly looking forward to hearing Geoff’s convocation speech – and yes, he exceeded my expectations.

Geoff’s address was inspirational, motivating and moving. In less than 10 minutes, he presented himself as a son who loved and valued his parents, a family man, a socially responsible citizen, a mentor and a business guru.

Geoff’s speech focused on three pieces of advice. Firstly, one’s ability to choose first rate, honest, and energetic co-workers is critical. He very humbly credited his success in life to the fun and fantastic colleagues surrounding him.

Geoff’s second recommendation to the students and convocation audience was regarding the determination to achieve. With perseverance and determination, any rocky and uneven path becomes doable.

Geoff’s third and last counsel was focused on the meaningful and impactful living within our community and environment. After all, we only have one planet.

I was particularly touched by his concluding recommendation to the graduands that they never lose their sense of aspiration and achievement, and to live balanced and happy lives.

As a Senator of the University of Calgary, I am truly honoured and thrilled to welcome Dr. Geoffrey Cumming to our University of Calgary family. We now have a lifelong bond with Geoff and I am sure he will continue to inspire many.

University of Calgary Senator Anwar Haq

University of Calgary Senator Anwar Haq

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *