Honorary Degree Citation - Norman D. Hébert*

by Louise Quesnel, June 2005

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Mr. Norman D. Hébert, local businessman, philanthropist and supporter of Concordia University.

The great Edmund Burke, Irish-born British statesman and political philosopher, once said: "Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other." While Norman Hébert has excelled in providing examples that inspire others, he has also shown that he disagrees with Burke on this one point: he has dedicated much of his volunteer time to this university, as a centre of learning. In doing so, his example has inspired his son, Norman Hébert Junior, who now chairs Concordia's annual golf tournament.

Mr. Hébert has built an automobile sales empire unrivalled in size and success in Quebec. Avec plus de 350 employés, le Groupe Park Avenue, qui comprend des concessionnaires automobiles et des sociétés de location à long terme, affiche un chiffre de vente annuel de plus de 250 millions de dollars Mr. Hébert's success is derived from his passion for cars and his dedication to people. He has built a reputation of integrity and customer support that is the foundation of his long lasting, ever-growing, and profitable business. Today Norman D. Hébert is Chairman of the board of directors at Groupe Park Avenue, and his son, Norman Hébert Jr., is the president and C.E.O.

Mr. Hébert understands the value of University scholarship, his wife studied at The Sir George Williams Business College. His son graduated from Loyola and his granddaughter, Annie, as well as her husband, also graduated from Concordia with a Bachelor of Commerce. C'est dire qu'il a un attachement tout particulier envers notre établissement pour lequel il se fait lui-même volontiers donateur généreux et organisateur de souscription déterminé. Cet homme solidaire d'autrui croit que donner un coup de pouce à quelqu'un qui en a besoin l'aiguillera vers un avenir porteur d'espoir.

This is one of the reasons he established the Norman D. Hébert Scholarships, given annually to students in the Mechanical Engineering Program. The award is based on academic merit. There is a story about one of the recipients of this scholarship. It embodies the essential notions of generosity and society-building that Mr. Hébert cherishes. Girish Parvate-Patil grew up in India and had a passion for automobiles. He wrote a paper on internal combustion engines which brought him to study at Concordia. Girish was the 2001-2002 recipient of Mr. Hébert's Scholarship. But he also used a portion of the money to establish a series of scholarships for his old college back in India, the Koihapur Institute of Technology. Each year, three awards of 1000 rupees, or $35 Canadian dollars are distributed to deserving students. Girish explains why he used the Scholarship in this way, "in India," he said, "I always thought about making a positive contribution to my own country. Now I feel like I am a citizen of the world. The world is my country, and I want to contribute to it endlessly, as Norman Hébert is doing."
Par ailleurs, en homme sage et équilibré, M. Hébert tient à réinvestir dans la communauté, non seulement ses ressources pécuniaires, mais également son temps et son énergie. As a key member of the committee of this university's Concordia's Annual Campaign from 1998 to 2003, he demonstrated the same focus, discipline and strategic skill that has made him so successful in his business enterprises.

It has been said that character grows in the soil of experience, with the fertilization of example, the moisture of desire, and the sunshine of satisfaction. In this intelligent, good and generous man's life, there is an example for all of us.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you Norman D. Hébert, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

* deceased