VIU awards honorary degree to respected philanthropist and businessman

Portrait photo of Stephen Jarislowsky

Stephen Jarislowsky's lifelong commitment to business ethics, good governance and excellence in learning is being acknowledged by VIU with an Honorary Doctorate of Letters

June 15, 2022 - 11:30am

Stephen Jarislowsky will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters at VIU’s June 24 afternoon convocation ceremony.

There are two things you need to do to get ahead in life – you have to learn how to think and you need to lead an ethical life.

This advice comes from Stephen Jarislowsky, who directed the growth of one of the largest and most successful management firms in Canada, and who has dedicated countless hours through his foundation to giving back to the country that he has called home for more than 67 years.

“If you know how to think, you can analyze things. You can think it through and find the best solution based on the facts,” he explains. “If you live an ethical life, and everyone knows that, then people will trust you and you will go even further than if you only know how to think. That is how I have built my reputation and it has given me very good results.”

For his lifelong commitment to business ethics, good governance and excellence in learning, Jarislowsky will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Vancouver Island University (VIU) on June 24 during the afternoon convocation ceremony.

“Stephen Jarislowsky has inspired and influenced generations of Canadians through his philanthropy and devotion to standing up for what is right,” says Dr. Michael Hawes, VIU 2018 Honorary Doctorate recipient and CEO of Fulbright Canada. “VIU is fortunate to have a strong advocate and partner in Mr. Jarislowsky. I hope that Mr. Jarislowsky’s commitment to education, approach to critical thinking and business ethics serves as inspiration to VIU graduates as they begin their professional journey.”

Jarislowsky was born in Berlin, Germany, in September 1925 and attended public and high school in the Netherlands and France before emigrating to the United States in 1941. He studied mechanical engineering at Cornell University before serving in the US Army, working in counterintelligence in Japan after the Second World War.

When Jarislowsky returned to the US in 1946, he earned a Master of Arts and Phi Beta Kappa Honours from the University of Chicago, then completed a Master of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. After graduating, he worked at Alcan Aluminium and then for The Twin Editions in New York City, his father-in-law’s company, after his death. 

He started Jarislowsky, Fraser Limited in 1955 in Montreal with $100 of his own money and about $50 from a business partner and “the rest is history.” The company was initially an innovative securities research firm that conducted field research on Canadian companies and he developed his own tool to ascertain the quality and growth prospects. Jarislowsky, Fraser has been a leader in advancing corporate governance by holding management and boards to a higher standard, and advocating on behalf of minority stakeholders.

This ethical approach to the finance industry led Jarislowsky to co-found the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance in 2002 with Claude Lamoureux, then-president of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which he describes as “probably the finest thing that I’ve ever done.” The coalition describes itself as the “voice of institutional shareholders that invest in Canadian public equities.”

“What we were interested in is ethical behaviour and ethical laws. If people know that the companies they are investing in practice good governance, then people have trust in them,” explains Jarislowsky. “And the people who work for these companies know they’re going to be fairly treated.”

After 63 years, Jarislowky sold his firm to Scotia Bank in 2018. Since that time, he has devoted his energies to supporting the work of the Jarislowsky Foundation, which he started in 1991 to promote and support the advancement of excellence in education, medicine and the arts. Through the foundation, he has supported more than 40 research chairs at post-secondary institutions.

“Many are oriented towards mentorship and undergraduate education,” says Jarislowsky. “These chairs have enormous knowledge and can really help young people develop an interest in these subjects because they are passionate about what they are doing.”

In recognition his lifetime focus on business ethics and philanthropy, Jarislowsky holds the International Entrepreneur Award from the University of Manitoba, Corporate Director Lifelong Achievement Award, is a Fellow of the Institute of Corporate Directors and has been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. He is a Companion of the Order of Canada and Grand Officier de L’Ordre National du Québec.

Jarislowsky will be honoured at VIU’s 2:30 pm convocation ceremony on June 24 in the Nanaimo campus gymnasium. The event will also be livestreamed on VIU’s Facebook page. Visit the VIU convocation website for more details.


Media Contact:

Jenn McGarrigle, External Communications Manager, Vancouver Island University

C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

Tags: Community Engagement | Announcements

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email