Alumni Engagement

2017 Honorary Degree Recipient – Paul Charette

June 12, 2017

Paul CharetteHe’s a titan of industry, a paragon of philanthropy and a proud Red River College alum.

And for Paul Charette, recipient of RRC’s 2017 Honorary Degree, his most recent recognition comes exactly 50 years after he first graduated from the College.

The former CEO of Bird Construction, Charette graduated from RRC’s Civil Technology program back in 1967 (after receiving a $200 bursary from the Women’s Auxiliary of West Kildonan).

He added to his credentials with a Computer Programming degree in 1968, then worked for nine years with Manitoba Hydro on the development of the Nelson River and Manitoba Rolling Mills expansion projects.

In 1976, Charette began working for Bird Construction — first as a project coordinator, then as chief operating officer (1988), chief executive office (1991), and chair of the board (2001). During that time, he led the company through a period of substantial growth, increasing revenues from $90 million in 1988 to more than $1 billion in 2008, when he stepped down as CEO.

The Charettes are RRC’s most prominent individual donors, having over the years established two award endowments — which fund 12 student awards each year — and the Paul and Gerri Charette Manitoba Applied Research Chair in Sustainable Construction.

He also played a pivotal role in helping to establish the Construction Management Degree program at RRC.

In addition to his most recent honour from the College (which complements the Distinguished Alumnus designation he received in 2002), Charette has also received a number of industry awards, including the 2001 Ontario General Contractors Chairman’s Award of Recognition, the 2005 Toronto Construction Association’s General Contractors Section Bob Rae Memorial Award, and the 2006 Canadian Construction Association’s General Contractors Award of Excellence.

In 2010, he was named the Canadian Construction Association’s Person of the Year, and this year was named Colleges and Institutes Canada’s 2017 Outstanding Partner, an award that celebrates the close collaboration between colleges, institutes and their industry partners.