McCrea, Armour

Degree conferred: Doctor of Science (D.Sc.)

Orator: Mason, Gordon

to be Doctor of Science

Forty years ago, the buildings of the Halifax waterfront were derelict and few people were seen in the area who did not have business there. By contrast, the Historic Properties and Founders Square are today Halifax's most visited tourist site.

This project is but one of the many achievements of Salisbury, New Brunswick native Armour "Ben" McCrea. Ben graduated from UNB with a civil engineering degree, followed soon after by a Master's degree from the University of Illinois. He returned to the Maritimes in 1972 to found the Halifax based real estate development company, Armour Group Limited. Since 1990, the firm has been responsible for just under half of all new commercial development in the Halifax Municipal Region.

There are of course many property developers but Ben stands apart for several reasons. The mammoth and award-?winning Historic Properties project required vision and tireless work, and became a turning point in how Halifax managed urban renewal. It was the first development in Atlantic Canada to use sea water for heating and cooling.

That early environmental consciousness has since grown to be a key part of the Armour Group operations. The acronym LEED stands for Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design. In 2007, Armour Group implemented a policy that all future projects would be built to LEED standards, and recently the first LEED certified building was completed. Their latest project, Waterside Centre, is seen as a major step in fortifying the waterfront as a central business district and will incorporate four heritage properties. It is the first new office building to be built in the Halifax core in over 20 years.

Ben's commitment to the environment extends to his involvement with Ducks Unlimited and his generous support in the creation of the Greenwing Legacy Project within the Wildlife Park in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia. His philanthropy extends to Sacred Heart School in Halifax and to UNB. The Harry M. McCrea Memorial Scholarship supports students graduating from JMA Armstrong High School in Salisbury. And his most recent gift establishes a unique opportunity for a working engineer to receive an annual fellowship of $20,000 to develop management skills through our new MBA in Engineering Management.

Ben's work and generosity have been recognized by the naming of the Greenwing Interpretive Centre in his honour, and by his receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Greenwing Conservation Award in 2006. His other honours include induction into UNB's Engineering Wall of Fame, being named the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year in 2009, and receipt of the Engineers of Nova Scotia Sexton Gold Medal in 2010. This year will see him join the Junior Achievement Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame.

Entrepreneur, visionary, environmentalist, conservationist and philanthropist -- for all his achievements we are pleased today to award Ben McCrea this honorary degree.

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