Murray Farmer, this year’s recipient of the UVic Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement, admits feeling a bit embarrassed by it all. “It’s something I never thought I would be chosen for,” says Farmer, BA ’68. “But I take it as recognition of my volunteer work, and so I accept it on behalf of so many, thousands, of people who volunteer for different things in Greater Victoria.”
Farmer will be recognized at the UVic Legacy Awards in November when Distinguished Alumni Awards and Alumni Awards for Excellence in Teaching will be presented along with inductions into the UVic Sports Hall of Fame.
Farmer says UVic taught him how to think critically, a skill that helped him rise to national prominence in the construction industry. It’s a learning path he would encourage young people to consider today, even if they plan on entering the building trades. “Any industry needs well-rounded people,” he says, “and for me the personal development that I got from university was hugely important.”
Farmer, who chairs the UVic Board of Governors, has in recent years become an avid horseman and partner in a Central Saanich equestrian centre that introduces young people to riding and its responsibilities. His family’s business endeavours include Farmer Construction and Accent Inns.
Also being honoured are mutual fund industry leader Jim Hunter, BA ’74, who will receive a Distinguished Alumni Award and Michaela Tokarski, MBA ’01, Distinguished Young Alumni honoree.
Hunter, a former Vikes basketball team member, is the CEO of NexGen Financial in Toronto, after previous leadership roles at Mackenzie Financial and Deloitte Haskins & Sells accounting.
“In truth, I came to UVic to play basketball,” Hunter says, “when I left my views of the world and my ambitions were far broader.”
Tokarski is the vice-president of marketing for MODASolutions of Ottawa, an e-commerce software firm. She was also a co-founder of Coastal Contacts, the successful online retailer of contact lenses.
“The curriculum and the entrepreneurship option provided a deeper dive into the dynamics of start-up companies,” says Tokarski. “Professors and classmates had this incredible wealth of life experience and I’m truly thankful to them for sharing their experiences.”
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