O'Blenis, J. David

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

Orator: Mason, Gordon


CONVOCATION, OCTOBER, 2009
JAMES DAVID O'BLENIS
to be Doctor of Science

A native of Salisbury, New Brunswick, David O'Blenis graduated from UNB with a civil engineering degree in 1963. After obtaining a master of engineering degree from West Virginia University the following year, he taught engineering for three years at the Royal Military College in Kingston before joining the Canadian Armed Forces. He spent more than 25 years with NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command beginning as a pilot and Squadron Commander. For three years he was in command of Canada's fighter and radar surveillance forces, and eventually served as Deputy Commander in Chief of NORAD, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant General in 1995.

General O'Blenis then applied his leadership and management skills to the corporate world. Joining Allied Signal Canada as Vice-President, Business Development and Government Affairs, he became President in 1999 and led the Canadian integration of Allied Signal with Honeywell, serving as President and Chairman. In 2001 he became President of Raytheon Canada Limited, a company with more than 1,400 employees throughout Canada and a world leader in many high technology fields. Since his retirement from that position in 2007 he has been Chairman of Allen-Vanguard Ltd., a Canadian company providing counter-terror protection systems.

General O'Blenis has been a strong proponent of higher education in general, and UNB in particular. He supports two scholarships, one for graduates of Salisbury High School and one in Smith Falls Ontario, and has been a long time financial supporter of UNB. More recently, on the creation of the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society in 2006, he agreed to chair the National Council and has committed to helping the centre establish a solid resource base.

Dave has received a number of awards in recognition of his leadership abilities. He was decorated by the Governor General in 1990 with the Order of Military Merit, in the rank of Commander, the highest level for this award. He has also received the United States Air Force Legion of Merit. He has served on various aerospace and defence industry boards, including the Canadian Association of Defence and Securities Industries of which he was chair.

His early training as a pilot led to a lifetime of flying, including anti-submarine patrol duties, air defence operations and advanced jet instruction assignments. He has earned Transport Private, Commercial, Flight Instructor and Designated Flight Test Examiner ratings. He currently operates the Smith Falls-Montague airport and teaches flying to students of all ages. His other passions are hunting and fishing. He was only 12 when his father first took him hunting and their fall expeditions continued until his father was 90.

We are pleased today to recognize a native New Brunswicker, and UNB graduate with this honorary degree.

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