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Paul Charette named RRC’s 2017 Honorary Degree recipient, 50 years after first graduating from College

June 5, 2017

Paul Charette, Gerri Charette, and Paul Vogt
He’s a titan of industry, a paragon of philanthropy and a proud Red River College graduate.

So naturally, the College is just as proud to congratulate Paul Charette on receiving this year’s Honorary Degree — a distinction that comes exactly 50 years after he first graduated from RRC.

“We are thrilled to present Paul with an honorary degree and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of his graduation from Red River College,” says RRC President Paul Vogt (shown above, at right, with Charette and wife Gerri).

“We are very fortunate to have graduates like Paul, who share their vision and support and are constant ambassadors for RRC across the country. Paul’s generosity and enthusiasm for our College, as well as his commitment to providing opportunities for our graduates, is essential to what we are building at RRC.”

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.

Paul charette yearbook photo, 1967

Paul Charette’s RRC yearbook photo, 1967

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.