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2015 BCI Hall of Excellence Ceremony
2015 BCI Hall of Excellence Ceremony
Posted on 11/15/2015

Wayne Blackwell and Dr. Michael Dempster are Newest Inductees into
Brockville Collegiate Institute Hall of Excellence

By Mark Calder

(Brockville) – A business executive who rose from the position of desk clerk to divisional president of an international cable company credited his success Saturday to “three pillars” of achievement learned at Brockville Collegiate Institute (BCI).

Wayne Blackwell, retired president of the International Division of BICC/Phillips, told those gathered for the 2015 BCI Hall of Excellence ceremony that he succeeded because the school taught him the value of “teamwork, education, and charity.”

Blackwell was one of two exceptional graduates inducted during this year's ceremony, held at the BCI auditorium. Dr. Michael Dempster, professor emeritus with the Centre for Financial Research at the University of Cambridge, was also recognized this year. Unable to attend, the honour was accepted by his daughter.

A student at BCI from 1958-1963, Blackwell told those gathered for the ceremony that his marks weren’t stellar. However, time spent on the school basketball team, cadets, Key Club and other school groups showed him the value of teamwork.

“I was taught that working together toward a common goal was the way to succeed in life and I’d like to think that was one of the reasons for my success,” he said.

He also credited family members for supporting him through 20 different moves for job postings, and understanding when part-time post-secondary studies and business trips kept him away from home.

Blackwell left BCI in 1963 with a Grade 12 diploma. He joined Phillips Cables in 1965 as a desk clerk in Freeport, Bahamas where he served for two years before transferring to the company’s Brockville plant.

Realizing his potential, his wife encouraged him to go back to school to get his Grade 13 diploma and then post-secondary degrees – all while raising a family. In 1988, he was awarded a Diploma in Management Training (MTC) from the University of Western Ontario and in 1992 he earned his Executive Masters in Business Administration (EMBA) from Concordia University – at the age of 48.

“No matter where you are in your student life, there is always potential,” he told students in the crowd. “You have a future ahead of you. Don’t give up.”

He also stressed that true success is only found through helping others in your community.

“I believe that the more you give the more you receive back,” he said.

Since retiring to Brockville, he has been a board member with Loaves and Fishes, Sherwood Park Manor and Brockville General Hospital. Most recently Blackwell served as chair of the Coalition for Responsible Urban Zoning.

“Looking at my school days it is amazing that I am up here on the stage today,” he told the students with a smile. “Who knows, maybe in 50 years you’ll be here as well.”

Dr. Dempster attended Brockville Collegiate Institute from 1951 to 1956. During his years at BCI he was a member of the curling club and cadets. He was also heavily involved with the drama club. After graduating, he pursued his studies at the University of Toronto and then studied at the Carnegie Institute of Technology where he earned both his masters and his doctorate.

Since completing his doctorate, Dr. Dempster has had an impressive career, which has included assisting in the development of risk management software used by financial institutions, and teaching and conducting research at many of the world’s finest universities including Oxford, Princeton, Stanford and Dalhousie. His primary interests have been mathematical and computational finance and economics, optimization and non-linear analysis, stochastic systems, algorithm analysis and software applications.

The ceremony also recognized winners of the school’s Faculty Awards, and presented a special honour to former BCI head secretary and volunteer Joan Clow for longtime service to the school, including several years as a member of the BCI Hall of Excellence Committee.

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