Thank you Harvey Secter
As our campus welcomes the installation of Anne Mahon as the 14th Chancellor of the University of Manitoba on June 3, we celebrate the legacy of her predecessor, Harvey Secter.
Throughout his three terms as the head of this venerable institute, Chancellor Secter has focused on improving the lives of those within our communities, and inspiring others to do the same.
Since his installation at the 131st Spring Convocation in 2010, taking the reins from Bill Norrie, Chancellor Secter has conferred degrees on more than 46,000 undergraduate and graduate students, and in his first speech to a graduating class in Spring of 2010, he advised them on how to benefit our community.
“There are some 160,000 philanthropic and not-for-profit organizations registered in Canada,” he told the new alumni. “Find one or more that you feel passionate about and get involved—you will be amazed at how much you can gain from doing a little good.”
Chancellor Secter believes investments in education and philanthropy never fail. He loved challenging students to improve the world with their minds and passion, something he has personally done throughout his life, most recently, as a leader of the most ambitious philanthropic campaign in Manitoba’s history: Front and Centre, the campaign for the University of Manitoba. It is succeeding, and will transform the lives of students and researchers for generations to come.
Chancellor Secter has always been an active community philanthropist and volunteer. His parents, the late Joe and Gwen Secter, were widely known in Winnipeg for their philanthropic endeavours—a family trait that he has continued with enthusiasm.
He has helped guide the University through economic downturns, campus improvements, faculty amalgamations, administration overhauls, and more.
“There is a reason his term was renewed three times,” Lt.-Gov. Janice Filmon [BScHEc/1963, LLD/2011] said at a recent reception for him. “Because his wisdom and vision has made him one of the most influential voices in our university’s governance. His philosophies, ideas and perspectives have become woven into the fabric of this institution and this community.”
President David Barnard echoed these views, praising Chancellor Secter’s ability to provide a measured voice of reason to all matters of university governance.
“Surely the role of Chancellor is one Dr. Secter was born to do,” he said. “He has been a friend and champion of this university since before I arrived and I will miss his wise counsel. This academy owes him a great deal of thanks for the dedication he has shown, and sacrifices he has made, for what is essentially a volunteer role that comes with immense responsibilities and hallowed duties, all of which he fulfilled with grace, respect and good humour.”
He was elected as the 13th Chancellor of the University of Manitoba on December 8, 2009, and was reappointed for a second term in 2013, then a third three-year term in 2016, which will end on May 31, 2019. The following day, author and social activist Anne Mahon [BScHEc/87] will be installed as the 14th Chancellor.
“When people ask what I will remember most about my time in office, a myriad of specific events come to mind. Most are about people, opportunities I’ve had to share in their achievements and the joy I’ve had of celebrating the opening of new horizons with the people who made them possible,” Chancellor Secter said at a recent farewell dinner.
“Throughout history, the U of M has been known as a place where people’s lives are changed, sometimes in ways they planned; often in ways that they never imagined. I feel it at every convocation and hear it at every reunion and alumni event,” he said.
“The American academic and author, Jospeh Campbell, wrote, ‘We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.’ I’m not sure that it was a willing or even knowing decision, but the U of M was certainly the place where I found the life that was waiting for me.”
His early years
Harvey Secter received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Manitoba in 1967. Following graduation, he directed the growth of his family’s retail business, Ricki’s Canada Limited, from a ten-store chain to a multi-divisional national operation of 150 stores.
A recognized leader in the business community, Chancellor Secter was also a member of the ownership group of the Winnipeg Jets. He pursued his business career until 1988 when he returned to the University of Manitoba as a law student. He graduated with the Gold Medal in law in 1992 then went on to Harvard Law School where he received his Master of Law degree. He became a visiting researcher and instructor for Harvard’s program on negotiation where he taught in the areas of negotiation and mediation. He returned to the U of M as an instructor in the Faculty of Law from 1995 to 1999.
In 1999, just seven years after graduation from the U of M’s Faculty of Law, Chancellor Secter was appointed its dean, serving that position with distinction until 2008. This is a notable achievement that speaks to the leadership, experience, and vision Sector held, even as a young alumnus.
Following his decade of service to the Faculty of Law, Chancellor Secter retired but continued his practice in mediation and arbitration. He served on corporate boards as director of FPCN General Partnership Inc., as a trustee of FP newspapers Income Fund, and as a director of James Richardson & Sons, Limited.
His service and distinction
Chancellor Secter has received many honours, awards, and appointments from corporate, professional, and philanthropic organizations. Some include:
- Honorary doctorate from the University of Winnipeg
- The 2017 Sol Kanee Distinguished Community Service Award from the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg,
- The Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals and,
- The Negev Award for Community Service, which he shares with his wife Sandra
Chancellor Secter has served the University of Manitoba as a member of many councils, including:
- Board of Governors
- Management, Resources and Compensation Committee
- Governance and Nominating Committee
- -ad hoc Committee of Senate Executive to Examine Accommodation of Students with Disabilities and Governance Procedures Related to Academic Requirements (a.k.a. Cooper Commission)
- Presidential Review Committee
- Presidential Search Committee
- Leader of Tomorrow Entrance Scholarship Selection Committee
Dr. Secter also chaired the following committees:
- Chancellors Committee
- Senate Committee on Honorary Degrees
- Peter D. Curry Chancellor’s Award Committee
- Honorary Chair of the Presidents Campaign Team