A new entrance to St. Clair's main campus was officially dedicated as the Dr. Patti France Community Promenade in recognition of the honourary doctorate bestowed upon the College's President by Assumption University.
Dr. France humbly received the dedication while surrounded by friends, family, local dignitaries, past and present College Board of Governors members, and various other colleagues.
"I never got this far in my dreams," President France said. "It has been a dream come true job for me here at St. Clair College, and I have been so blessed by all the support and the wonderful and amazing staff that we have and all constituent groups. It is truly a collaborative team effort, and I have been honoured to be a part of it."
Hilda MacDonald, Mayor of Municipality of Leamington, described France as a progressive role model for aspiring female leaders and a friend to the entire region – not just the City of Windsor.
"She climbed through the ranks; that speaks volumes. And then to be accepted in that leadership role - because women sometimes break that glass ceiling but are never accepted - she has done that," MacDonald said. "She has embraced the community and vice-versa. A role model for all women, leaders in particular. Her arms are wide open, and she embraces the idea of inclusivity - she lives it."
President France began her career at the College as a part-time employee with a clerical position in the registrar's office. After a few years of working full-time at St. Clair, France took the opportunity to return to school to earn a graduate certificate in continuing education and a diploma in computer science. It then took ten (10) long years - one course at a time - for France to complete her bachelor's degree in adult education before sprinting through her master's degree in 18 months.
"I'm a believer in lifelong education, and I think if you continue to make sure that you're constantly taking advantage of learning opportunities - formally or informally - I think that's very important," President France said.
In 2015, France succeeded John Strasser as President of St. Clair College. As President, she has overseen the design and construction of various multi-million dollar infrastructure projects over the last seven years, such as the SportsPlex, Toldo Health Sciences Centre, Sports Park, the Zekelman Tennis Centre and the Zekelman Centre for Business and Information Technology. France recently informed the College's Board of Governors that she will retire when her current term expires in August 2024.
Vice-Chancellor of Assumption University, Dr. John Cappucci, said you only need to look at St. Clair's main campus to see France's accomplishments during her time as President of the College.
"It's a world of difference. You can see all kinds of advancements made, not only with new buildings and new facilities but with all kinds of new academic programs, particularly getting degree-granting powers which is a major accomplishment," Dr. Cappucci continued. "But also, all the community work (France) had led... It's all kinds of activities that she's willing to help with, and she puts 'community' in community college."
The Dr. Patti France Community Promenade features a decorative steel archway suspended between two stone pillars adorned with steel-fabricated light fixtures and mythical griffins. A garden surrounds the pillared archway with green shrubbery and gold flowers to honour the school's colours. The promenade serves as the starting point of a pathway to connect the main campus from north to south through a walking trail leading to the St. Clair Sports Park.
There will be a nine (9) foot gold griffin affixed on top of the pillar with the commemorative plaque. The griffin is in the finishing stages of fabrication.