The website for Upper Canada College uses cookies to enhance the user experience. To review our Privacy Policy, please click on "Additional Information" button above.

Founder’s Dinner honours awardees for 2021, 2022, 2023

Upper Canada College’s annual Founder’s Dinner returns in person on Feb. 7 for the first time since 2020. The festivities take place on campus with an awards ceremony followed by dinner and a keynote speech by Blake Hutcheson ’80, president and chair of OMERS and chair of the UCC Board of Governors.
The awards ceremony will celebrate awardees from the pandemic years, 2021 and 2022, along with this year’s award winners: the 2023 Old Boy of Distinction, John Thompson ’60, former chair of TD and vice-chair of IBM Corp. worldwide, and a former member of the UCC Board of Governors; and the John D. Stevenson Award winner, Dr. Liza Murrell, former chair of the Prep Parents’ Organization, member of the Upper School Parents Organization, Association Council member and volunteer extraordinaire. Both 2023 awardees expressed their pleasure at being award recipients.

“I’m very honoured and flattered,” Thompson says. “I never really expected it. I know it’s a prestigious award for the College, and Michael Wilson, the first person to ever receive it, was a friend of mine, as was Bill Wilder, the second recipient. 

“I’d lost track of it over the last few years, and I was totally surprised when Sam [McKinney] called. It came out of the blue. I never thought I’d be a candidate for it.”

Thompson has always had close ties to UCC. Both of his sons are graduates and four of his grandsons currently attend UCC. He, himself, keeps in touch with a group of classmates.

“It’s interesting; when you leave high school, you think you’ll make good friends at university and in the working world, but my best friends today are still those I made at UCC,” he says. “We have the ability to pick up right where we left off.”

Thompson lauds the College for the foundation it laid for his future.

“We were very well educated, which led to good universities and good jobs,” he says. “We developed better communication skills than most: both writing well and learning to speak in public. We were well rounded beyond academics with a wide set of interests. And, we developed our competitiveness, and learned some leadership skills, both of which you need in a business career.” 

Murrell experienced UCC from a parent’s perspective – her two sons are Old Boys -- and finds the College equally impressive.

“I feel that UCC really strives to make a difference,” she says. “I love the fact that they are so serious about equity, diversity and inclusion that they’ve made it one of their core values so that everything they do is rooted in it. They are living it in their hiring practices and in the education of both students and faculty and it’s genuine.”

She is delighted about the John D. Stevenson Award.

“I was so honoured to receive the Harold A.D. Roberts Circle Award, but this award, it’s an even bigger honour,” she says. “The past recipients have done so much for the school. To follow people like Holly Miklas and to be nominated by her is so lovely.

“I volunteered with so many amazing people who stood right beside me year after year and every one of us could be receiving this award.”

She recalls feeling unsure about volunteering her very first year, but will always be grateful that she got involved. 

“I am very proud of the support, and the services that we provided, as well as the finances that we were able to raise in order to enhance the experience of the entire UCC community over the years.

“We had a beautiful community of volunteers and many of those people are my dear friends to this day,” Murrell says. “Even though I don’t see them everyday any more, I know they are there for me, as I am for them.”

In fact, even though her sons have graduated, Murrell feels so strongly about UCC that she continues to volunteers as a member of the Association Council’s Pluralism Task Force.

“It’s a great community and it touches so many lives,” she says, a sentiment that Thompson undoubtedly echoes.

The annual Founder’s Dinner takes place this year on campus on Feb. 7. For more information, please visit the events section of UCC’s website.
The word experience The UCC Difference