(May 9, 2013 - Orillia, ON)
Lakehead University’s 2013 Civitas Award recipient describes the development of the Orillia campus as a large conceptual art piece that has been brought to life.
This is a fitting description, considering the artistic background and creativity of this year’s Civitas Award recipient, Will McGarvey. McGarvey helped transform the original ideas and concepts for a university campus into what Lakehead Orillia is today. The Civitas Award is given annually to a Simcoe County resident who has a record of community engagement that has significance or importance to Lakehead University’s Orillia campus.
Will McGarvey is a professional artist, small business owner, and community leader who has been an active supporter of Lakehead’s Orillia campus for the past 10 years – longer than the life of the campus itself. He was one of a handful of Orillia community members who originally formed the Orillia University Committee in 2003 to advocate for a university campus. He then became one of five community members asked to sit on the Orillia Mayor’s Task Force, chaired by then Mayor Ron Stevens, to establish a university in Orillia.
Since the campus opened in 2006, McGarvey has been a member of the Orillia Campus Advisory Committee and has chaired the Community Relations sub-committee since its inception.
Under McGarvey’s direction, the Community Relations committee has contributed to the development of numerous community partnerships that have benefitted the University and the community. Most notable among these are the community connections made for the University’s Humanities 101 program (offering a university experience to adult learners faced with barriers to further education) and work placements by social work and education students. The committee regularly provides input about community needs, making it a valuable asset to the growing Orillia campus.
“I consider it a privilege to be able to help connect our University with the community,” says McGarvey, who thought that once the University opened its doors, the work of the Mayor’s Task Force would end. As it turned out, members of the Task Force began the formation of the Orillia Campus Advisory Committee. “Many of the University’s administrators were new to the community and continued to need help with networking and learning about community resources,” explained McGarvey. “A small, new campus has limited resources and we were able to help expand the capacity of its administration.”
McGarvey, whose father James “Pete” McGarvey was Lakehead Orillia’s honorary degree recipient (Doctor of Humane Letters) in 2011, attributes much of the motivation behind his commitment to the University to his own role as father and grandfather. With four children and five grandchildren, McGarvey believes that a community with a university will provide the kind of opportunities he wants for his growing family.
“I love what a university does to a community – we have a more creative culture, a youthful dynamic, and the kind of opportunities that we just didn’t have 35 years ago when I returned to Orillia.”
Born in Orillia, McGarvey moved away from the area when his broadcaster father was transferred to Southwestern Ontario. He later moved to Toronto and completed an Honours Degree in Fine Arts from York University and a Bachelor of Education Degree from the University of Toronto. It was when he was starting a family that McGarvey decided to move back to Orillia. He and his wife Lucia opened the Shadow Box, a retail art store in downtown Orillia, while McGarvey also focused on his art career and developed his reputation as an exceptional visual artist.
In 1998, McGarvey founded a second business, Shadowbox Learning Services Inc., an online e-learning production company. Although busy with his business, art production and a growing extended family, he looks forward to continuing his work as an ambassador and advocate for Lakehead Orillia.
“The opening of Lakehead has been one of the most exciting developments in our community,” said McGarvey. “From the outset I was confident that the presence of a university campus would make a difference and I am honoured to be recognized for the role that I have played.”
McGarvey will be presented the Civitas Award at Lakehead University’s June 8 convocation ceremonies at Rotary Place in Orillia.
The Civitas Award was first introduced in 2008 when it was given to Sue Mulcahy, who spearheaded the Simcoe College initiative. Other Civitas Award recipients include Lloyd Dennis (2009), Ron Stevens (2010), Paul Weber (2011) and Anderson Charters (2012).
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Lakehead Orillia 2013 Civitas Award recipient Will McGarvey meets Lakehead graduate student Debbie Balika at Lakehead’s Research & Innovation event, one of the many University initiatives he supports as chair of the University’s Orillia Campus Community Relations Committee.