York president receives honorary degree from McMaster University

Mamdouh Shoukri delivers his honorary degree speech

Embrace change, dare to dream, do not accept the conventional wisdom and take risks, said York President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri to the Faculty of Engineering graduating class Wednesday at McMaster University.

Shoukri was on hand to receive a doctor of science honorary degree from McMaster University where he graduated with his master’s degree in engineering and his PhD, and went on to serve as dean of the Faculty of Engineering for seven years. It is during this time that “the faculty experienced a period of significant growth in size, capacity, results and ultimately reputation, said McMaster University President and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “When Dr. Shoukri was selected as McMaster’s vice-president of research and international affairs in 2001, that trend continued on a university-wide canvas.”

Deane went on to say that Shoukri was also responsible for leading the charge on McMaster Innovation Park, which “has proven to be a highly successful venture as the home of cutting-edge research, strong knowledge translation and important partnerships.”

Mamdouh Shoukri delivers a speech to the Faculty of Engineering graduates at McMaster University after receiving an honorary degree
Mamdouh Shoukri delivers a speech to the Faculty of Engineering graduates at McMaster University after receiving an honorary degree

Shoukri said receiving the honorary degree from McMaster was an incredibly special honour.

He told graduands that through higher learning they can gain a sense of confidence and security, and learn the skills of leadership, listening and the importance of giving back. The first step was leaving the security of their home and heading to university.

“During your time here at McMaster, your learning broadened your perspective, and you learned to face outward, away from home. And now, as you prepare to graduate, many of you will be thinking about where life will take you next, and about the choices you will make,” said Shoukri.

No matter where you go, he said, the skills learned at university – critical thinking, problem solving, creating and sharing knowledge – will help you to feel at home anywhere, just as “McMaster and the education I received here helped to define my association with my adopted home and helped me build a career in both industry and academia.”

It was also through his experience of being mentored at McMaster and elsewhere, and in turn mentoring others, that Shoukri said he learned about leading others.

“I see leadership as having three core elements – knowledge, drive and the ability to listen. But knowledge by itself is not enough. With the knowledge, you also need drive. I always say that nothing gets done unless there is a champion who is going to see it through. . . . But a leader also needs to know when to listen. Why? Because everyone has a different perspective. To be able to use that difference and to recognize it as an asset is very important for a leader.”

Education has also taught today’s graduands about the importance of giving back. “You are privileged to have studied in a great institution in a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country. And along with your good fortune comes a special responsibility. You must act for what you believe in by giving back to your community, your profession, your country and indeed the entire world,” said Shoukri.

“As engineers, you are blessed with the capacity to change the world. Through innovation, society expects you to transform your knowledge into products and services to enhance people’s quality of life. With the pace of change . . . one cannot even imagine the type of engineering work you will be doing during your careers.”

But with that profession comes the core values of public service and social responsibility, he said. “Ensure that you are always driven by making the world a better, healthier and more peaceful place.”