Carleton Presents Honorary Degrees to Zita Cobb and Annette Verschuren at 2013 Fall Convocation

Carleton University conferred honorary degrees upon alumna and philanthropist Zita Cobb and NRStor CEO Annette Verschuren today at the university’s annual Fall Convocation. In addition medallists were announced from the graduating class of 1,218 students.

“Our two honorary degree recipients are exceptionally dedicated to improving their communities,” said Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. “These women are a testament to the power of innovation in motivating positive change. We are very proud to honor them at this Convocation ceremony.”

During the first of two ceremonies, Verschuren was honoured with the Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her outstanding contributions to entrepreneurship and sustainability in Canada and globally.

“Making profit and acting socially responsible is one of the secrets to success I’ve used all along the way,” said Verschuren. “And were there naysayers? You bet! But passion with determination is a powerful thing. I believe it’s becoming the new way we will be running our companies, the new form of capitalism.”

During the afternoon ceremony, Cobb was awarded the Doctor of Laws honoris causa in recognition of her exceptional career as an entrepreneur and for her outstanding commitment to philanthropy.

Katherine Graham concluded her introduction of Zita Cobb discussing her good work. “As we hope all good philanthropists do, she established two scholarships for young people from Fogo Island to go to university. At the event to celebrate this, one of her fellow islanders stood up and said: “Why are you paying our young people to leave? Why not help create opportunities for them to stay?” And so she has. Zita Cobb’s work exemplifies the importance of understanding ways of knowing in rural places and the use of business to make things better there.”

Included among numerous medals awarded at Convocation were:

  • The Governor General’s Medal, awarded to Kyle Kevin Biggar as the graduate student at the top of the graduating class;
  • The Chancellor’s Medal, awarded to Chris R. Pitre, in the name of the Chancellor of the University, as an undergraduate student with outstanding academic achievement. Pitre had a perfect GPA;
  • The President’s Medal, awarded to Alexandra Christina Cassandra O’Brien, for having the highest standing in a general or major degree program of studies.

For a complete list of awards and recipients visit:

About Annette Verschuren:
Annette Verschuren is chair and CEO of NRStor Inc. a new venture accelerating the commercialization of energy storage technologies. Verschuren has taken her wealth of experience unique and well-rounded skill set in finance, operations and leadership and applied it to a diverse array of public, private and non-profit ventures throughout her career.

She was formerly president of The Home Depot Canada and Asia, overseeing the growth of the company’s Canadian operations from 19 to 180 stores between 1996 and 2011 and led the company’s entry into China.

In 2011, she was honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada for her contribution to the retail industry and corporate social responsibility.

About Zita Cobb:
Zita Cobb grew up in Joe Batt’s Arm, a community of 700 people located on Fogo Island, off the northeast coast of Newfoundland. She went on to a financial career initially in the oil and gas industry. She later moved into high-technology and was the chief financial officer of JDS Fitel, and senior vice-president of strategy for NASDAQ-traded, fiber optics innovator JDS Uniphase.

She retired in 2001 to sail and to focus on her philanthropic work. She is keenly interested in the well-being of rural communities and the preservation of culture.  She believes in the transformational power of the arts and in business innovation and social entrepreneurship as tools for effective community development.

Cobb is the visionary behind the Shorefast Foundation. Shorefast leads a number of innovative projects, including the recently launched Fogo Island Inn, aimed at cultural and economic resiliency for Fogo Island and Change Islands.


For more information
Steven Reid
Media Relations Officer
Carleton University
(613) 520-2600, ext. 8718
(613) 265-6613

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