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Foundation announces 2019 distinguished alumni

The Holland College Foundation has named Brian Burke, Chris Murray, and Cheryl Roche as the recipients of its 12th annual Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Foundation Board Chair Ron Keefe said that the 2019 recipients are being honoured for their accomplishments and commitment to their chosen professions.

“The 2019 award recipients, Chris Murray, Cheryl Roche, and the late Brian Burke have made definite marks within their chosen fields and have given their time and talents to the betterment of their communities.”

Brian Burke - Commercial Design, 1972

The late Brian Burke is one of the most notable visual artists to have come out of Prince Edward Island. He became one of Canada's foremost figurative painters with an international exhibition activity.  He left behind an impressive legacy – a solid, beautiful, and haunting body of work depicting his singular focus on the nature of existence. Many consider Brian to be the most significant PEI visual artist of the last half of the 20th century.  He has had solo exhibitions from the 1980s to 2017 all over Canada and the US, as well as in Switzerland, including many group exhibitions.   

Brian was recognized early in his career with a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, which enabled him to travel to New York in 1986, where he broadened his vision.  He initially focused on his immediate surroundings and memories, but increasingly turned to universal themes.   

 His paintings are included in prestigious collections like the Canada Council for the Arts Art Bank; the Department of External Affairs, Canada; Confederation Centre Art Gallery, Charlottetown; the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; WKP Kennedy Gallery, North Bay, Ontario; The Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton; Art Bank/Art Collection of the Province of PEI; UPEI; Nordstrom Corporation; The Bank of Nova Scotia; TD Bank, Kunstmuseum Luzern, Switzerland; his work is in private collections in Canada, US, Asia, Africa, and Europe.  

Burke was named a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts in 2003.  He died in 2017, leaving behind an unforgettable visual legacy.  His work is currently exhibited in a retrospective at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, PEI. A book is accompanying the exhibition. 

Chris Murray - Urban & Rural Planning, 1987

After Chris graduated from Holland College in 1987, he attended Ryerson to earn an undergraduate degree in the same discipline.  It was there that he mentored and helped other Holland College students arriving at Ryerson to navigate a large program and the city environment.

Chris began his career in the private sector and in 1995 joined the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth.  He rapidly moved through the ranks, and was promoted to the role of City Manager, a position he held from 2009 to 2018.  During that time, he completed many city-building initiatives, negotiated landmark indigenous agreements, and lead the second largest housing authority in Ontario. Chris is known as a problem solver with considerable political acumen.

In 2018, Chris became the City Manager of Toronto, the fourth-largest city in North America.  He currently leads 35,000 employees in service to 2.8 million Toronto residents.  He is the epitome of public sector leadership, evidenced in both in his results-oriented approach and community commitment.

Cheryl Roche – Business Administration, 1984

Cheryl is extremely entrepreneurial, willing to take risks on ventures that have turned out to be great business decisions. Because Cheryl saw a need in the community, she is the driving force behind the Prince Edward Island Reach Foundation, a not-for-profit organization focused on the rehabilitation and recovery of Island youth who struggle with mental health and addictions issues. 

Since its inception in 2013, the Reach Foundation has supported more than 200 youth aged 16 to 30 through the development of essential employability skills during their transition from treatment through recovery, and to the workforce or back to school.

Currently Cheryl is the owner and operator of History & Heraldry Canada, a Canada-wide wholesale distributor of giftware. Cheryl also operates retail stores in Charlottetown, in Gateway Village in Borden-Carleton, and in Cavendish, as well as Digitech Images, an embroidery business in the West Royalty Business Park.

Cheryl was a director with the Holland College Foundation Board of Directors from 2011 to 2017. 

Burke, Murray, and Roche join past recipients Jan Cowper, Irwin MacKinnon, David Poirier, Melody Dover, John Sylvester, Melanie Wildman, Scott Annear, Patti Larsen, David Trainor, Wayne Stewart, Cory LeDrew, Kevin Proude, Sue LeFort, Delaney Chisholm, Norma Lee MacLeod, John Ledwell, Paul Livingston, Robert Webster, Barry Sheen, Kathy Ward Doucette, Steven Barber, Tim Banks, Louise Vessey, David Garcelon, Basil Stewart, Jeff Poirier, Eva O'Hanley, Jamie Hill, Sonya Corrigan, Alan MacLeod, Steven Collicutt, John Avery, Brent Blackmore, Alanna Jankov, and Kevin O'Brien as Holland College Distinguished Alumni.  A display celebrating all alumni who have been honoured with the award is located at the college’s Prince of Wales Campus in Charlottetown.

Jo-Ann Campbell-Boutilier, executive director responsible for alumni relations and the Holland College Foundation, said that celebrating the achievements of graduates is a priority for Holland College.

“We are so proud of our 40,000 alumni and the impact they are making worldwide,” said Campbell-Boutilier.  “Chris Murray, Cheryl Roche, and the late Brian Burke join a distinguished group of graduates whose collective leadership in their industries and their communities has been remarkable.  We are excited to celebrate their accomplishments, and we know they will inspire current and future students.”

A reception and awards dinner will be held at the Tourism and Culinary Centre in Charlottetown on March 4, 2020. For more information, please contact the Holland College Office of Alumni Relations at 902-566-9303 or alumni@hollandcollege.com. Find out how to nominate an alumnus of Holland College for a Distinguished Alumni Award by visiting Alumni & Friends at hollandcollege.com. Nominations are accepted year-round.

In this picture, (left to right) Brian Burke, Chris Murray, Cheryl Roche

For more information about this release, please contact:
Jo-Ann Campbell-Boutilier, Executive Director - College Advancement and the Holland College Foundation
Tel: 902-629-4273
Date: Tuesday, December 03, 2019