Google Search
Honorary degree awarded to UTSC alumna and community leader

DOCTOR OF LAWS: Mary Anne Chambers receives an honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree at convocation and is congratulated by U of T President David Naylor, centre, and Chancellor David Peterson, at right. (Photo by Ken Jones.)

Mary Anne Chambers, an alumna of the University of Toronto Scarborough, community leader and former politician, has received an honorary degree from the University of Toronto Scarborough at a recent convocation ceremony.

Chambers (BA Hons 2003) is renowned for her commitment to the community and the university. She was honoured at the June 9 convocation at Convocation Hall on the St. George campus. A total of 1,394 students earned their degrees from UTSC. Three convocation ceremonies for UTSC graduates took place this spring.

“Mary Anne Chambers has served her community, city and province with poise, charisma and passion for more than 30 years,” said Professor Franco Vaccarino, principal of UTSC. “Her dedication and commitment to public service and philanthropy are borne out of her unshakeable belief that ‘the world should be a better place because I have served’.”

Chambers served as Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities in the Ontario government after being elected a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the riding of Scarborough East from 2003 to 2007. Through her leadership, she increased students’ ability to complete their education without undue financial hardship and opened doors for financially trained individuals, the graduates were told.

As Minister of Children and Youth Services, Chambers advocated for the protection of children and youth and spearheaded a number of innovative reform initiatives. Before entering politics, Chambers worked in the private sector, serving as senior vice-president of Scotiabank. She has also demonstrated an extensive record of volunteer service in health, education and social service, Vaccarino said.

Now the incoming President of PACE (Project for Advancement of Childhood Education), Chambers is also involved in primary schools in Jamaica, from which she emigrated in 1976. She is also a member of the boards of the YMCA of Greater Toronto and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and former board member of the Rouge Valley Health System and the University of Toronto’s governing council, on which she served as vice-chair from 1998 to 2001. Chambers is also past chair of the United Way of Greater Toronto and former president of the Canadian Club. She was recently named a YWCA Woman of Distinction for community service.

The philanthropic efforts of Chambers have made a positive impact on the lives of many students at all levels of education, Vaccarino said. She has funded more than 30 scholarships for first-year students at Canadian universities and colleges. She has served as a role model for the Black community in Canada, he noted, and is the recipient of 17 different awards, citations and honours. At UTSC, Chambers funds the Imani Mentorship program for middle and high school students, in partnership with the IMANI Black Students’ Alliance and the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of East Scarborough.

“Ten years ago, when I had the privilege of hooding Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the University of Toronto conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, the thought never entered my mind that I could also be the recipient of such an honour,” Chambers told the audience. “To simply say that my life has been enriched by the University of Toronto does not do justice to the extent of that reality.”

She advised the graduating students to be community builders. “It is my wish for the members of this graduating class that you will take pride in the ways in which the university has already enriched your lives and that you will recognize and embrace the possibilities that have yet to become your reality….Recognize your good fortune, and don’t take it for granted. Put your education to good use, not only for your personal gain, but also to provide opportunity for others.” To view the full convocation speech by Mary Anne Chambers, click here.

For more details or to watch the webcast, visit the U of T convocation web site by clicking on the link below:

by Mary Ann Gratton

© University of Toronto Scarborough