Richard Nunn Portrait Unveiling

September 29, 2014

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of my cohost, Ms Judy Goldring, Chair of the Governing Council of the University of Toronto…

Welcome, everyone. I would like to extend special greetings to two of our esteemed former chancellors, The Honourable David Peterson and The Honourable Henry N.R. Jackman; two former chairs of the Governing Council, Dr. Jack Petch and Dr. Rose Patten; my immediate predecessor, President Emeritus David Naylor; the artist whose work we are about to unveil, Mr. Phil Richards; friends, and colleagues of our guest of honour from Deloitte; and the governors, faculty, staff, students and alumni, and senior academic and administrative leaders who are here.

And I extend warmest greetings to the man of the hour, Mr. Richard Nunn, his wife, Mrs. Judith Nunn, and their daughters, Louise, Victoria, and Charlotte Nunn.

Ladies and gentlemen, the portraits in this room, and those in the halls leading up to it, remind us that the University of Toronto is a great academic community comprised of people, collaborating in our shared missions of teaching and research.

Of course the portraits also represent their individual subjects. In this, they remind us of the unique character of each of these leaders. And in so doing, they convey the ethos of this wonderful community of learning and discovery, to which we are so privileged to belong.

The portrait we are about to unveil is – in all these ways – a splendid addition to the collection. Richard Nunn served two years as Chair of the Governing Council, in a total of nine years as a governor, the maximum allowed by the University of Toronto Act. He was a co-opted member of the Business Board for three years before he was appointed to the Governing Council, after which he served for six years as the Board’s Vice-Chair and then Chair. After that, he was elected Vice-Chair of the Governing Council, before becoming its Chair.

In an eventful and important period in the history of the University, Richard provided invaluable expertise and leadership in our governance. He served with a brilliant combination of intelligence, principle, discipline, openness, and respect for others – and with a deft and delightful sense of humour. On the latter quality, I would like to draw your attention to a great anecdote recounted by Phil Richards, in his notes in the program you will receive shortly.

I will leave it to you, as you view the painting later on, to find how the anecdote has been represented. But here is what Mr. Richards wrote:

“Richard is one of the founding members of a neighbourhood fitness group called the Gentlemen’s Walking Club. With the best of intentions, they initially mapped out a lengthy and strenuous circuit around the neighbourhood that would give them all a good workout. Eventually, however, this circuit evolved into a shorter walk to and from a particular destination. That destination was the local pub.”

Richard Nunn may be described as serious, in the best sense of the word. We have observed in his accomplishments as a triathlete. And we see it in his devotion to his profession, his community, and above all his family.

But in addition to his gravitas, he is also profoundly good-humoured, decent, and generous – and given to subtle revelations of playful individuality, not least through his collection of exotic cufflinks!

Ladies and gentlemen, in my time so far as President, I have often observed what a joy it is to meet the many volunteers across the University – and indeed around the world – who do so much to strengthen us all. Richard Nunn stands as a sterling example. And his portrait here will remain as an inspiration – not only to all those who directly experienced his service in the governance of the University of Toronto, but also to all those who will benefit from it in the years to come.

Thank you, Richard, for that service.

And thank you, Judith, and Louise, Victoria, and Charlotte, for your part in supporting him in it.