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Dr. Gary Polonsky

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Dr. Gary Polonsky was an instrumental and inspirational leader involved in the creation of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, working closely with a group of community volunteers and business leaders to spearhead the drive to create more post-secondary options for the citizens of Durham Region and Northumberland County. During his tenure as founding university President, seven faculties were created, more than 70 faculty members were recruited, and 20 undergraduate programs were developed. By September 2005 some 3,000 students had joined in the extraordinary journey of studying at a university as it was being built from the ground up.

Prior to the establishment of the university, Dr. Polonsky had served as President of Durham College since 1988. He was President of both the university and Durham College from 2003 until he retired in 2006. During this time he championed numerous campus developments to enhance student success and provide an exceptional educational experience.

Before moving to the Durham Region, he served as a faculty member at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, later as Vice-President at Lakeland College in Vermilion, Alberta and Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, and as President of Red River College in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Dr. Polonsky served as honorary patron of the Ontario Philharmonic and honorary chair of the Multiple Sclerosis Walk, and led the successful campaign to raise $1,000,000 for the Oshawa Community Health Centre. Over the years, he has received several distinguished honours for his contributions to educational and community-based initiatives and charities, and was honoured with a permanent place on the City of Oshawa's Walk of Fame. He was also appointed Chair of the board of trustees for the Canada Museums of Science and Technology - further evidence of the esteem in which he is held within the broader community.

In recognition of his tremendous leadership and long-time contributions to Ontario's college system, he was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Ministry of Training, College and Universities and the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.