Former Blue Jays president and champion of Japanese culture in Canada to receive honorary degrees at York University fall convocation


TORONTO, October 18, 2016 – York University will confer honorary degrees at this fall’s convocation ceremonies to two exceptional Canadians: a sports visionary and philanthropic superstar as well as a financial leader, Paul Beeston and an education and health services advocate and champion of Japanese-Canadian culture, Janice Fukakusa.

“Paul Beeston and Janice Fukakusa have been trailblazers in their respective fields, each possessing a strong sense of community spirit and drive that extends to the remarkable work they do to give back to their communities through volunteer service and philanthropy,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “We are delighted to honour these Toronto civic leaders and I know they will be a great inspiration to our graduating students as they set out to make their own impact.”

Convocation ceremonies will be held from Wednesday, Oct. 19 to Friday, Oct. 21. The Convocation website includes a full schedule of all ceremonies. All ceremonies will take place at the Convocation Pavilion, located at the Aviva Centre, 1 Shoreham Drive, at York University’s Keele campus (#8 on the map), except for Friday's ceremony, which will take place at the Seymour Schulich Building.

Here are the recipients in order of the Faculty ceremonies at which they will be honoured:

Paul Beeston – Sports visionary and philanthropist
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Glendon College and Faculty of Health
Wednesday, Oct. 19, 10:30am

Beeston is one of Canada’s most celebrated sports leaders. Over the past four decades, he has played a principal role in shaping baseball in Canada. In 1976, he was hired as the Toronto Blue Jays’ first employee. He fulfilled progressively senior roles at the organization, culminating in president and chief executive officer, titles which he held until his 2015 retirement. During his tenure with the Jays, he was instrumental in guiding the team to two World Series wins.

From 1997 to 2002, he took a hiatus from the Jays to serve as president and chief operating officer of Major League Baseball. He currently serves on the board of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1998, and he has been inducted into both the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame (2002) and Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame (2005). In 2008, his name was added to the Blue Jays’ Level of Excellence at the Rogers Centre. In recognition of his peerless contributions to the Blue Jays franchise, he was appointed president emeritus in 2016. Mayor John Tory presented Beeston a key to the city of Toronto on September 28th of this year.

Beeston has distinguished himself as a philanthropist, giving to diverse causes, including the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, where the Beeston Cup in wheelchair hockey was a much-anticipated annual event. He has also served as chair and member of the board of trustees for the Centre for Addiction & Mental Health (CAMH), director of the Blue Jays Care Foundation and board member of Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Western Ontario.

Janice Fukakusa – Financial leader, education and health services advocate and champion of Japanese-Canadian culture
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Schulich School of Business
Friday, Oct. 21, 9am

York alumna Janice Fukakusa (MBA 1979) is changing the face of women in the financial sector. She is chief administrative officer and chief financial officer of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Canada’s largest banking institution. Since joining RBC in 1985, she has worked in positions across the organization’s many sectors. She has a bachelor of arts from the University of Toronto and master of business administration from the Schulich School of Business. Before RBC, Fukakusa worked at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, where she achieved her chartered professional accountant and chartered business valuator designations.

Her numerous professional accolades include being inducted into Canada's Most Powerful Women Hall of Fame, selected as Canada’s CFO of the Year (2014), named a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and chosen as one of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking by American Banker magazine for four consecutive years.

A child of Japanese immigrants interned in camps in Canada during the Second World War, Fukakusa holds her Japanese-Canadian identity close to her heart. As an active member of the Japanese Canadian Culture Centre, she has assumed a leading role as a cultural and fundraising advocate. She also serves on several not-for-profit organizations, including Ryerson University, the Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, Wellspring Cancer Support and the Schulich School of Business. She facilitated RBC’s $2-million gift toward the school’s Centre for Global Enterprise in 2011 and is currently a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council. In 2013, she received both Schulich’s Alumni Recognition Award for Outstanding Public Contribution and a Bryden Alumni Award for Pinnacle Achievement.

York University is known for championing new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-discipline programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 26 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 295,000 alumni.
York U's fully bilingual Glendon campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media contact:
Gloria Suhasini, York University Media Relations, 416 736 2100 ext. 22094,