Chancellor Emeritus honoured for public service

By Matt Terry, September 24, 2014

Chancellor Emeritus, McMaster alumnus and philanthropist Lynton “Red” Wilson is being honoured with the Institute of Public Administration of Canada’s highest honour.

Wilson is to receive the Vanier Medal in recognition of his distinctive leadership and significant contributions in public administration and to the public service in Canada.

The Governor General will present the medal to Wilson at an upcoming ceremony in Ottawa.

“I was delighted to receive the call about this,” said Wilson. “It’s quite an honour.” McMaster nominated Wilson for the medal.

As a Companion of the Order of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame, Wilson is among Canada’s most respected business leaders. But for the last 50 years, he has also been a leader in Canada’s public service.

Wilson began his career in the public service in 1962 on the advice of McMaster professor Togo Salmon.

He first served as a Foreign Service officer with the Department of Trade and Commerce, then as Assistant Commercial Secretary at the Canadian Embassy in Vienna.

He later served in Japan as well as with the Ministry of State, Science and Technology before being appointed Ontario’s Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Tourism.

“The public service is one of our fundamental institutions,” said Wilson. “I think it’s important for our best and brightest to consider the public service both as a career and as a way of contributing to the community.”

Wilson worked in the private sector as President and CEO of Redpath Industries and as President, CEO and Chairman of BCE Inc. He also helped found the Historica Foundation of Canada, best known for its televised Heritage Minutes shorts.

Over the years, Wilson has been an outstanding and generous supporter of McMaster, with a focus on investing in the liberal arts.

His $10M gift toward the new home of the Faculties of Social Sciences and Humanities was announced in 2007. L.R. Wilson Hall is now under construction on campus.

In 2008, he gave $2.5M in support of the Wilson Centre for Canadian History. Other gifts include $1M to establish the L.R. Wilson Professor in Canadian History and a gift of $500,000, matched by BCE, to fund the L.R. Wilson/Bell Canada Chair in Data Communications in the Faculty of Engineering.

He was appointed McMaster’s 17th Chancellor at Fall Convocation in 2007 and served in that role until Sept. 2013.