University of Calgary

Kovitz honoured

June 11, 2009

Prize and namesake honoured

Muriel Kovitz congratulates Cody Olson who is this year's winner of the Muriel Kovitz prize. / Photo: Nicole Langton
Muriel Kovitz congratulates Cody Olson who is this year's winner of the Muriel Kovitz prize. / Photo: Nicole Langton
Cody Olson walked across the stage at convocation with more than a degree in hand. He is the first Haskayne School of Business student to win the university’s most prestigious Convocation medal—an award that also comes with $12,000.

This year marks the 30th anniversary the Muriel Kovitz prize. It is awarded to the graduating student with the highest grade point average and commemorates Dr. Kovitz’s term as the U of C’s first female Chancellor, from 1974 to 1978.

Olson, who graduates with a Bachelor of Commerce, will continue his studies this fall when he begins law school. He is a regular volunteer with the Calgary Immigrant Services Language Bank and has also worked as a volunteer missionary in Russia and interpreter at the Arctic Winter games.

“I consider it a tremendous honour to be selected as this year’s recipient,” says Olson. “I’m very grateful for the generosity of Dr. Kovitz in making this award possible and for her own personal legacy of education, hard work and service.”

At Convocation Dinner last night, the award, recipient and namesake were honoured along with this year’s honorary degree recipients, Order of the University of Calgary recipients and winners of the Presidents’ Awards in Excellence in Student Leadership.

“It’s so exciting every year. The students are all so impressive,” says Dr. Muriel Kovitz. “It’s very important to my whole family to be able to reward such good work, effort and intelligence, and to help these young people in some small way to make their way in the world.”

She says the idea for the prize was her husband’s, the late Dr. David M. Kovitz, a Calgary dentist who shared her zeal for learning. “The motivation was to help these students further their education,” she says. “And almost all of the winners do go on to complete graduate degrees.”

Members of the University community and Senate supported the prize’s endowment, honouring Dr. Kovitz’s leadership not just at the U of C but as an active community advocate in many fields. She has received the Order of Canada, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal. In 1981, she received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Calgary.

“My whole U of C experience was a wonderful time in my life,” says Dr. Kovitz. “It’s been so gratifying to see the University develop into such a fine institution.”

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