The entire Brandon University community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Kevin Kavanagh, who served as BU Chancellor from 1996 through 2002, and was thereafter appointed Chancellor Emeritus. He continued to attend BU’s annual Convocation every year.
“This is an enormous loss, felt by us all,” said BU President David Docherty. “Dr. Kavanagh’s contributions and connections with Brandon University extend over decades and are among the most significant in our history. Our sincere condolences go to his family.”
Kavanagh, who was born in Brandon in 1932, earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Manitoba. Later in his life, the U of M also bestowed him with an honorary doctorate. After graduation, Kavanagh joined The Great-West Life Assurance Company, where he worked his way up the ranks to become President and CEO, as well as one of Manitoba’s most highly respected business and community leaders.
A strong supporter of the arts and higher education, Kavanagh was a member of the provincial commission on post-secondary education, was a director of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and served as Governor of the Banff Centre for the Arts. His activities on provincial and national boards were numerous and varied, and included the Winnipeg Airports Authority, the Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian Health and Life Insurance Federation, and the Crown Corporations Council.
In the mid-1990s, Kavanagh received the Friend of Education Award from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education for his outstanding service and commitment to post-secondary education in Canada and he was named an honorary life member of the Brandon University Alumni Association.
In the early 2000s, Kavanagh and his wife Els served as Honorary Campaign Chairs of the BU & YOU Campaign — leading what became BU’s most comprehensive and successful fundraising initiative to that point. Their fundraising included the establishment, in 2000, of the Dr. Kevin & Mrs. Els Kavanagh Entrance Bursary at BU. In 2006, their commitment to BU was recognized with the Brandon University Apex Award, presented to outstanding volunteer fundraisers. That year, the campus courtyard was renamed and dedicated as the Kavanagh Courtyard in their honour. During community consultations for BU’s 2017 Campus Master Plan, the Kavanagh Courtyard was identified as the “heart of the campus.”
In 2002, while serving as BU Chancellor, Kavanagh was named a Member of the Order of Canada. In 2009, he was named a Member of the Order of Manitoba.
The flag at Brandon University will be lowered to half-mast in Kavanagh’s honour.
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