Guy Burry wins international volunteer award

A beaming Guy Burry (BA ‘82) stepped onto the stage in Pittsburgh Feb. 6 to accept one of the top international honours ever accorded to a volunteer member of York’s alumni association. In doing so, Burry also let the audience in on a secret. “Don’t tell anyone, but I am absolutely sure that I get more out of volunteering than I put in,” he said.

Right: Guy Burry shows off his award for voluntary service

As the recipient of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) Robert L. Payton Award for Voluntary Service, Burry, who is Chair of the York University Alumni Association, joins a select few of dedicated volunteers recognized for their tremendous commitment to postsecondary education. Describing him as “a courageous leader for York University, its students, faculty and staff”, Tracy Barlok, Chair of CASE District II, presented the honour to Burry for his leadership role in advancing philanthropic programs and for his promotion of the needs and goals of Canada’s third-largest university. Burry was honoured during the CASE District II Awards & Accolades Gala which took place at the close of the district’s annual conference.

During an energetic and inspiring acceptance speech, Burry provided his audience with a glimpse into the passion that drives his volunteer work. “I am honoured to be here and delighted to accept this award as part of the York University family,” said Burry. “I am a proud member an inspiring community whose members have dared to challenge the ordinary and forged their own paths to groundbreaking success.

“In our ranks, we have prominent broadcasters who are working in both Canada and the United States. Ten Canadian federal politicians are graduates of York University. An astronaut, who will fly in the space shuttle this summer for the second time, and a National Hockey League coach, who’s coaching Canada’s Olympic hockey team this year, are part of York’s alumni ranks,” said Burry, referring to Steve MacLean and Pat Quinn. “These alumni and countless others speak of the achievements, leadership and diversity of York University.”

Burry said that deciding to volunteer for York University was “an easy decision and it continues to be a rewarding endeavour.” In addition to his role with York’s alumni association, Burry serves on the York University Board of Governors and is a member of the board’s investment and audit committees. He is also a member of the Student Representative Roundtable and the University Council for Sport and Recreation, a trustee of the York University Pension Fund and Chair of the trustees’ subcommittee on investment performance. He has also chaired the highly successful Tribute Communities-York University Chair’s Golf Tournament, which has raised almost $1.5 million (after government matching) to benefit students at York.

Burry’s contributions also include significant financial donations, which he has made personally or has helped to secure. For example, in the mid-1980s, Burry memorialized his late grandfather’s love of the outdoors, through the creation of the Guy Warwick Rogers Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry. As well, Burry has helped establish student awards in the area of sport and recreation and has supported initiatives in York’s Faculty of Environmental Studies.

Left: Guy Burry (centre) with Paul Marcus (left), president and CEO of the York University Foundation, and Naguib Gouda, executive director of Alumni & Advancement Services  

His service record is not limited to York. Generous with his time, Burry serves on a host of committees and not-for-profit organizations in the Greater Toronto Area and in Muskoka-East Parry Sound, north of Toronto. He is the managing director of the merchant bank and business accelerator Tenth Power Incorporation.

“This is a room filled with folks who, as my 14-year-old daughter would say, ‘get it’. We each have our own reasons for giving back to our universities,” said Burry. “I am a proud member of the York alumni community of over 190,000 graduates who live around the world.”