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Community Awards

Old Boys of Distinction Awards

Old Boy of Distinction

Established in 2017, the Old Boy of Distinction Award is among UCC’s highest honours. Presented annually by the UCC Association Council on behalf of the College’s close to 10,000 alumni, the recipient has demonstrated a lifetime of significant achievement in his field(s) of endeavour; and has made a positive impact on the local, national or global community while upholding the principles and values of the College.

Young Old Boy of Distinction

The Young Old Boy of Distinction Award is presented annually by the UCC Association Council on behalf of alumni for whom it has been less than 20 years since their graduation from the College.

The recipient must have demonstrated a significant contribution in his field of endeavour and made a noteworthy contribution to community service while upholding the principles and values of the College.

Note: We are currently not accepting nominations for the Young Old Boy of Distinction Award for 2023–24. Further information will be shared soon.

For further information contact:

Brendan Dellandrea '01
Vice-Principal, Advancement
416-488-1125, ext. 3109

Award Criteria

  • Any member of the UCC community may nominate someone for an Old Boy of Distinction or Young Old Boy of Distinction Award. All nominations are treated as confidential by UCC

Old Boy of Distinction Award Winner 2024:

List of 1 items.

  • Dr. Peter Szatmari ’70

    Old Boy of Distinction Award
    Peter started at UCC in ‘junior form’ (Year 3) in 1959 and graduated from grade 13 in 1970. He went on to attend McMaster Medical School and finished his residency as a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. During the span of his career, Peter has focused on child wellbeing, mental health and autism research, becoming a leading expert and making significant contributions to the Autism Spectrum Disorder field.

    Within the first three decades of his career at McMaster University, Peter held numerous leadership positions, most notably as head of the Offord Centre for Child Studies and head of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, and as vice-chair, Research of the Department. Under his guidance, McMaster developed the first autism clinic for children in Canada, where he trained a new generation of clinicians to become experts in the recognition of different forms of autism and best treatments. 

    In 2013, he relocated to Toronto to assume the combined positions of chief, Child and Youth Mental Health Collaborative, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and The Hospital for Sick Children, and director of the Division of Child and Youth Mental Health, University of Toronto, where he stayed until 2021. Currently Peter holds the Patsy and Jamie Anderson Chair in Child and Youth Mental Health at CAMH and is director of the Cundill Centre for Child and Youth Depression. He is also the leader of the Pathways in Autism Spectrum Disorder study, which has followed a large cohort of children with autism from early childhood to late adolescence to map how children with the disorder develop over time. 

    His work has been motivated by a desire to provide developmentally-sensitive mental health care to children and youth, who have traditionally been poorly served by health systems. His innovative and internationally-recognized research program of clinical trials in youth depression seeks to transform the lives of children and youth struggling with common mental disorders.  This has resulted in policy reforms in Canada, as well as awards and recognition from organizations such as the Royal Society of Canada, the International Society of Autism Research and the Institute of Human Development and Youth Health. Peter has consulted with health organizations around the world, and his published work includes more than 395 scholarly articles and two books. 

    Peter never misses an opportunity to educate the public and break down stigmas surrounding child and youth mental health, because there is no health without mental health.
    Read Bio

Past recipients include:

List of 11 items.

  • John Thompson ’60

    Old Boy of Distinction (2023)
    John Thompson enjoyed a 36-year career with IBM, beginning as a systems engineer in 1966. He became president, CEO and chair of IBM Canada Ltd., and later Executive Vice-Chair and member of the Board of Directors of the worldwide IBM Corporation in New York. He was responsible for technology, research and development and corporate strategy.  

    After retiring from IBM, John went on to serve as Chairman of the Board of TD Bank Financial Group.

    While his résumé is filled with chairs and directorships, John always made time for UCC. He has served as a member of the UCC Board of Governors and as a member of the Principal’s Advisory Committee from 2007 to 2008 and the Campaign Leadership Council from 2010 to 2011. A huge supporter of UCC, John also assisted with enhancing IT capabilities at the College.

    John has unselfishly given his time and counsel to other organizations as well. Among John’s past volunteer contributions are service as Chancellor of Western University, Vice-Chair and Trustee at SickKids Hospital, Vice-Chair of Royal Philips NV and directorships at Thomson Reuters, the Conference Board of Canada and the Business Council of Canada.

    His work has been recognized with numerous awards, including induction as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012 for his leadership in the information technology sector and for advancing research partnerships between industry and academia. He has also received honorary doctoral degrees from Western University and Wilfrid Laurier University.

    While a student at UCC, John was a prefect, a championship swimmer, an active skier, and a football team member. 
    Read Bio
  • David Beatty ’59

    Old Boy of Distinction (2022)
    Parent of Andrew ’86, Chuck ‘88 and Ken ‘88
    Grandparent of Will ’23 and Oliver Finlayson ’24

    Renowned economist, corporate governance expert and founding managing director of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, past president of George Weston Foods, Member of the Order of Canada, former UCC Board of Governors chair, and currently the academic director of the David and Sharon Johnston Centre for Corporate Governance and Innovation, among myriad other achievements and contributions.

    “Being the Old Boy of Distinction for 2022 is a wonderful recognition of my career. The school has always embedded the idea that beyond
    success there is significance — that giving back to society as a whole is an obligation and a gift to each student. For today’s students, as for my students at the Rotman School of Management, I have three recommendations. One: to be effective you have to be reflective — being busy is easy, being useful is not. Two: Carpe diem (remember Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society). And three: do unto others as you would be done by.”
    Read Bio
  • Justin Wu ’04

    Young Old Boy of Distinction (2022)
    Career and volunteerism highlights thus far include acclaimed television director of shows including Kim’s Convenience and Run the Burbs, fashion photographer for brands like Vogue and Dior, speaker for Greenpeace, awareness campaign developer for the United Nations, and a 2021 nomination for Image Maker of the Year by the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards.

    “I believe it’s our civic responsibility to give back and contribute to the community. In a country that is ever-changing and can be divided, volunteerism and philanthropy enriches and elevates society by the act of uplifting everyone, together. It not only grounds you, but teaches you the value of empathy, collectivism and altruism. Being named the Young Old Boy of Distinction is an honour, and a reflection of where I came from. I wasn’t an overachiever growing up — but one can blossom at any time. I hope that part of my journey can inspire the next generation.”
    Read Bio
  • Thomas H.B. Symons ’47 (1921–2021)

    Old Boy of Distinction (2021)
    The late Thomas H.B. Symons was a great Canadian educator and innovator who thrived on civic responsibility. He was teaching at the University of Toronto when a committee of Peterborough, Ont. citizens approached him about creating a university there. Symons became the founding president and vice-chancellor of Trent University and remained at the university until his retirement in 1994. At Trent, Symons began Canada's first university Indigenous studies program, created a Canadian Studies program and founded the groundbreaking Journal of Canadian Studies.

    In addition to his dedication to Trent, Symons had a strong commitment to Canada and served the country, the province and its communities well. He was chair of the Ontario Human Rights Commission from 1975–78; chair of the board for the United World Colleges from 1980–86; and president of the Ontario Heritage Trust from 2010–2017. He helped establish a landmark Ontario-Quebec Educational Exchange Program that continues today and led the "Symons Commissions,' which laid the basis for French-language education in Ontario. 

    Symons gave his time to innumerable volunteer organizations over the years, including the Red Cross, Sir Sandford Fleming College, the Ontario Arts Council and the Mayor's Committee in Peterborough.

    His contributions to the country were recognized by his appointment as a Companion of the Order of Canada, with 13 honorary degrees and appointment to the Order of Ontario, among other honours. He also received the Queen's Silver, Golden, and Diamond Jubilee Medals and the Canadian Centennial Medal. 

    From 1979 to 1983, Symons served on the UCC Board of Governors, and his family legacy at the College includes sons Ryerson '85 and Jeffrey '88, and grandson Wilson '19. It’s with great pride that we continue to steward the longstanding Symons Prize in Canadian Studies, awarded to a student in Year 7 who demonstrates a love of the subject. 

    Symons passed away in 2021.
    Read Bio
  • Thomas A. Szaky ’01

    Young Old Boy of Distinction (2021)
    Szaky is the founder and chief executive officer of TerraCycle, a global leader in the collection and repurposing of hard-to-recycle waste. TerraCycle operates in 21 countries, working with some of the world's largest brands, retailers, cities and manufacturers to create national platforms to recycle products and packaging that currently go to landfill or incineration. 

    He’s also the author of four books, including The Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular, and Revolution in a Bottle, which focuses on how to eliminate the idea of waste and change perceptions about what is recyclable. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Product Stewardship Institute, D'Addario Foundation, World Economic Forum (Future of Consumption board) and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (CE100 board).

    In addition to his pioneering work in sustainability, Szaky has made a difference at UCC, speaking at Assembly and the Green School Committee, and helping establish a program from 2013–2015 that allowed students to do summer internships at TerraCycle. 

    Szaky is no stranger to awards for his global contributions. He and TerraCycle have received hundreds of social, environmental and business awards and nods from a range of organizations including the United Nations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Fortune and Time magazines, World Economic Forum, and the Schwab Foundation. Achievements and recognition started early for Szaky: as a UCC student, he earned a place on the Principal’s List; the Bruce Hicks Award for Public Service; a General Proficiency Award; and the John Howard Prize in Arts. 
    Read Bio
  • James Arthur '62

    Old Boy of Distinction Award (2020)
    Considered one of the top mathematicians in Canada and the only Canadian to serve as head of the American Mathematical Society, James is the Ted Mossman Chair in Mathematics at the University of Toronto, and has been a professor at U of T since 1978. 

    As one of the world’s leading academics in the field of mathematics, James is a highly sought-after lecturer internationally. His work is centred on the trace formula, and he has made fundamental contributions to the theory of automorphic forms.

    James has demonstrated a lifetime of significant achievement and leadership in his field. A dedicated mentor to young faculty and graduate students, he has brought Canada to greater prominence on the world mathematical stage. His commitment to learning and excellence inspires future generations of academics working in the field of mathematics. 

    In 2015, James was awarded the Wolf Prize in Mathematics from the Wolf Foundation. This prize is considered by many to be the precursor to the Nobel Prize, and marks only the second time it has been won by a Canadian. 

    James was Head Boy at the College in 1962, and went on to study at the University of Toronto and Yale University. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1981, a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1992, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. In 2012, he became a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. James was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 2018, and elected a Fellow of the Canadian Mathematical Society in 2019. 
    Read Bio
  • Allen Champagne '11

    Young Old Boy of Distinction (2020)
    Allen was the 2020 recipient of the Young Old Boy of Distinction award. He is making a remarkable impact on reducing the effects of concussion in athletes participating in contact sports, as well as upholding the principles and values of the College in his dedication to community service and mentorship. 

    During his time at UCC, Allen was the recipient of many scholarships and awards for his achievements and excellent performance in academics and athletics, including the Lorne McKenzie Medal and the General Proficiency Award. He played varsity football and rugby, and was head of Seaton’s House in 2011. 

    After completing his undergraduate degree as a double major in biology and sport science at the University of North Carolina as a prestigious Morehead-Cain scholar, Allen enrolled at Queen’s University in the MSc. program and continued his football career with the Gaels. Following injuries that re-routed his path away from the Canadian Football League, Allen refocused his efforts towards entering the joint MD/PhD program so that he could leverage his football expertise in order to study the effects of sport-related head impacts on the brain, as well as concussions. 

    Allen has recently completed his PhD in neuroscience at Queen’s and is working on his medical degree. He is the lead developer of the NeuroProtection Project, an Ontario and Québec-based initiative which aims to make contact sports safer. Beyond his research and academics, Allen is active at UCC as a Lang Scholar mentor, a defensive-line assistant coach for the Queen's University football team, and co-founder of the Concussion Education, Safety and Awareness Program (CESAP), a student-led volunteer program raising awareness about sport-related head injuries throughout the country.  
    Read Bio
  • Bill Wilder ’40 (1922–2019)

    Old Boy of Distinction (2019)
    There’s good reason UCC’s arena and Prep library are named for William P. Wilder ’40, this year’s Old Boy of Distinction Award recipient. The list of Wilder’s accomplishments is long and varied and only hints at the true extent of his legacy. “I can think of no Old Boy alive today who has the combination of breadth, depth and tenure of service to society and UCC as Bill,” says former UCC Vice-Principal, Advancement Innes van Nostrand ’82 in his nomination. “The presence of the Wilder name on so many institutions, especially in Toronto, is testimony to an impact that is among the greatest by anyone in the last few decades.”
    Wilder left McGill in his second year to join the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve and served as on officer on a Royal Navy destroyer in the English Channel in 1942. After the war, he completed his degree, earned his master’s at Harvard Business School, and became a leader in the business community, eventually as president of Wood Gundy. Over the years, Wilder became increasingly active in public policy, serving as an adviser to numerous companies, government and not-for-profit institutions.
    Meanwhile, his philanthropic streak is legend. Wilder ran the E.W. Bickle Foundation (named for his father-in-law) for decades and is a significant donor to many arts, church, military, industry and education causes, as well as an adviser, fundraiser and board member for many esteemed organizations. Wilder is a recipient of the 2017 Order of Canada and this year was awarded the Legion of Honour, France’s highest honour for military merit.
    “When one looks at the purpose of any great national school, it must be focused on the development of people who will lead society and the nation,” van Nostrand says. “At the core, it requires a combination of competency—the skills and abilities to be highly successful—as well as the development of the kind of character infused by a sense of civic duty, selflessness and generosity. Without question, UCC would not be the place it is today without the role Bill Wilder has played as an Old Boy champion over the last 70 years.”
    Read Bio
  • Jason Rabinovitch ’04

    Young Old Boy of Distinction (2019)
    As this year’s Young Old Boy of Distinction, Rabinovitch will be recognized not only for the significant contributions he has made in the field of space science since graduating from UCC, but also for upholding the principles and values of the College in his dedication to community service and mentorship.
    Rabinovitch earned a degree in mechanical engineering from Yale, then completed two master’s degrees, as well as a PhD in aeronautics. He’s currently a mechanical engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where he has worked on everything from the Mars Helicopter to supersonic parachute deployments for space missions. He regularly shares his passion for science by giving talks in schools (including at UCC), mentoring students and co-leading the Caltech Space Challenge, an opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students to design a space exploration mission.
    Stephen Robinson ’04 met Rabinovitch at the Prep school, where the two discovered that they were born on the same day. They’ve been friends ever since. “As long as I can remember, Jason has been a leader in his many social groups; at school, on the rink, and in the sailboat,” Robinson says in his nomination. “At Caltech, and now at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Jason is often sent as a representative to all manner of events. In this role, Jason explores ideas with other scientists and engineers, educates the public and inspires the dreams of the future generations. Jason followed his own dreams to a career in space science and his sincere enthusiasm for the work is infectious.”
    Read Bio
  • The Honourable Michael Wilson ’55 (1937–2019)

    Old Boy of Distinction (2018)
    “Michael H. Wilson is a distinguished Old Boy who has contributed greatly to his school, community and country,” says Ed Bracht ’55, UCC class president and head of the peer group that nominated Wilson.

    “Michael certainly has exemplified the principles and values of the College throughout his life. His father, Harry Wilson ’22, former Chair of the UCC Board of Governors from 1962 to 1967, would have been very proud of him.”

    Wilson is chairman of Barclays Capital Canada, a former chairman of UBS Canada and a Companion of the Order of Canada. In the political realm he was, most recently, Canadian ambassador to the United States. He was minister for international trade, minister of industry, science and technology, and minister of finance before that.

    After retiring from Washington, he became chancellor at Trinity College and then the University of Toronto. Among many volunteer activities, he’s most closely associated with his outstanding work on the issue of mental illness, with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, as vice-chair of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and as chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

    Wilson has honorary degrees from the University of Toronto, York University, Trinity College at the University of Toronto and an honorary doctorate from the Royal Military College of Canada.
    Read Bio
  • Max Bruce ’05

    Young Old Boy of Distinction (2018)
    Max Bruce is an explosives technician with York Regional Police. After joining the force in 2010 as a frontline uniform officer, he worked his way up to the emergency response unit, where he’s responsible for high-risk search warrants, weapons calls, hostage rescue and terrorism response.

    Bruce was designated one of nine members of the explosives disposal unit last year and received the Lightning Bolt Award for saving a man’s life while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

    “What has impressed me about Max since his time at UCC is his willingness to follow his own path,” says university counselling director Katherine Ridout in her nomination.

    Bruce combines his career with service work with Ontario Special Olympians and the Southlake Regional Hospital in Newmarket, Ont. He frequently mentors young people who are interested in a police career and coaches football in and outside of the UCC community.

    “His gentleness and caring personality is equalled, if not surpassed, by his strengths — his physical strength, but more importantly his strength of character,” says Bruce’s godfather, Vahan Kololian ’73.
    Read Bio
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