2015 Fredericton Encaenia - Ceremony A

Cockburn, Mardi

Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.)

Orator: Kealey, Linda


to be Doctor of Letters

If there is one word to describe Mardi Cockburn's relationship to UNB, it would be 'ambassador.' Over the years, Mardi Cockburn has played a number of important roles that reveal her as a tireless volunteer and enthusiastic ambassador for the institution. Not only has she faithfully attended UNB special events, such as Homecoming and Encaenia dinners, but she has also given of her time and talents as president of the Associated Alumnae, as a member of the Board of Governors and on the Senate. Today she remains involved with the Associated Alumnae, serving as the group's 'historical memory.' Mardi Cockburn is also a generous donor to UNB, supporting libraries, scholarships and athletics.

Born in Fredericton, Mardi Cockburn attended high school in Halifax and came back to Fredericton for university. When she attended UNB to study entomology (insects) in the post World War II period, she often found herself one of the few women in classes which were filled with returned veterans. Marriage in the 1950s and raising three children kept her busy, but she found time for numerous organizations and projects.

Mardi Cockburn's commitment to literacy and learning is manifested in her numerous voluntary roles: with the National Library Advisory Board, the Canadian Library Trustees Association, as well as the New Brunswick Library Trustees Association, the Fredericton Public Library Board and the York Regional Library Board. Health care has also engaged her over the years, chairing Region 3's Hospital Board and participating in the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital Foundation Board and the Board of the New Brunswick Health Care Association. And dear to her heart -- arts and culture. As fundraiser and board member of Theatre New Brunswick, she helped raise a million dollars in a capital campaign and for a number of years she was chair of the Board of Governors at the Playhouse.

Mardi Cockburn is a team builder, a connector of people. At a recent dinner in a restaurant in St. Andrews, I am told, she knew and spoke to almost every person in the room and introduced herself to the few she did not know. She has a talent for connecting people and matching them with an appropriate organization or a task that needs to be done.

Given her commitment and hard work in so many organizations it is no surprise that Mardi Cockburn has been the recipient of many awards and honours -- too numerous to mention here. But here is a sample: the Governor General?s Commemorative Medal, the Lescarbot Award from the Government of Canada for outstanding contributions to community cultural activities, the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, the Canada 125 Medal and several outstanding volunteer awards. In 2011, she was named to the Order of New Brunswick. The City of Fredericton bestowed on her the Distinguished Citizen Award in 2014. UNB presented Mardi Cockburn with the Alumni Award of Honour some years ago, but today the university is pleased to bestow upon her its highest award, the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

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