P.A. native Gordon Rawlinson and wife receive honorary U of R degree

Gordon and Jill Rawlinson, who received the University of Regina's highest honour they can grant, were born and raised in Saskatchewan. (University of Regina Photography)

Gordon and Jill Rawlinson received the University of Regina’s (U of R) highest honour last week for their charitable work.

Although the two primarily live in Calgary, their “hearts are in Saskatchewan,” said Gordon.

He was born and raised in Prince Albert and Jill on a farm near Redvers. The philanthropists continue to spend their summers in Waskesiu.

The E.A. Rawlinson Centre for the Arts and the Victoria Hospital are among the many organizations they’ve supported in the province.

“We got a call from the president of the university, Vianne Timmons, in I think February. But it was confidential until they were ready to release it. We’d been excited, but couldn’t tell anyone for a while,” recalled Gordon.

It finally came last Friday, the last day of the university’s spring convocation.

After the ceremony, the university presented the Rawlinsons with an Honorary Doctor of Laws honoris causa (LLD) for their “lifelong commitment to community service.” It’s the highest honour the university can grant.

“My father used to say, ‘The better you serve the community, the better your business will do,’” said Gordon. “I have taken this advice to heart and believe it is the foundation of our success.”

His father, E.A. “Ed” Rawlinson, founded CKBI radio in the city in 1946. Gordon took over as CEO in 1974, expanding the company as Rawlco Radio to other cities like Regina, Saskatoon and Calgary.

“We’re still very fortunate that we had some success in our business,” he said about why they’re passionate about giving back.

Gordon said the two didn’t anticipate to receive an honorary degree, but were thrilled by the recognition.

Jill said growing up on a Saskatchewan farm inspired her community work.

“(It) made me realize and appreciate the importance of a strong family and a strong community,” she said. “There’s a huge interdependence, supporting one another is just what you do.”

Jill is the chair of the family’s Lily Street Foundation, which contributes to several causes and is the foundation of their philanthropy.