St. Clair College unveils promenade named after its president

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A new promenade named in honor of St. Clair College’s first female president was officially dedicated and unveiled to the community on Wednesday.

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The Dr. Patti France Community Promenade honors France’s legacy and her contributions to both St. Clair College and the community.

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“It is a fitting tribute to have her name on the community promenade, at the entrance to our campus,” said Egidio Sovran, chair of St. Clair College’s board of governors. “This gathering place will be a connection between students, staff, alumni and city.”

The promenade, located at the college’s Cabana Road entrance, will welcome students, staff and the community to the main campus with a large arched gate and several gardens. Soon to be added is a gold griffin, the legendary creature that is the school’s mascot.

“The griffin will be landing. Keep your eyes on the skies,” John Fairley, vice-president of communications, quipped at Wednesday’s ceremony.

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The promenade also connects to a newly installed path that runs the entire length of the campus, and officials said the promenade is the “crown piece” to St. Clair College’s beautification initiative started in 2015 when France became president. The college’s board announced in June it would be naming the promenade after her.

Egidio Sovran, chair of the St. Clair College board of governors, and Patti France, president of the college, unveil a plaque during Wednesday's official opening of the Patti France Community Promenade at the college's main Windsor campus.
Egidio Sovran, chair of the St. Clair College board of governors, and Patti France, president of the college, unveil a plaque during Wednesday’s official opening of the Patti France Community Promenade at the college’s main Windsor campus. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

France was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from Windsor’s Assumption University, and she also recently announced her retirement in 2024.

“It’s a tremendous honor and took me by complete surprise,” France said. “I think the British expression is the most descriptive: I was gobsmacked.

I was then, and I remain, overwhelmed by the board’s generosity and thoughtfulness.”

The weather was perfect for dignitaries, students, staff and guests during Wednesday's dedication of the Patti France Community Promenade.
The weather was perfect for dignitaries, students, staff and guests during Wednesday’s dedication of the Patti France Community Promenade. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Also present to honor France on Wednesday were presidents of the St. Clair College student and athletic associations, as well as Ward 1 Coun. Fred Francis and Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald.

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“Anytime I can help celebrate a positive addition to the south Windsor community, be a part of anything that Dr. France is a part of, and celebrating her tremendous work and efforts at the college, you can certainly count on me,” Francis said. .

France will have worked at St. Clair College for more than 35 years by her retirement in 2024, including two terms as president. She became both the college’s first female president and the first St. Clair College graduate to hold the position when her appointment was announced in 2015.

“Here is an entrance to the world of higher education that can make all of your dreams come true: as individuals for career fulfillment and personal well-being, and as a community to create and enhance a strong economy and provide caring social supports for ourselves. and our neighbors,” France said.

“It is perfectly appropriate that this honor takes the form of the new gateway that welcomes the public and prospective students to the college, because it truly symbolizes the pathway of all of my success and the potential for success for everyone.”

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St. Clair College's first female president speaks during Wednesday's official opening of the Patti France Community Promenade at the main campus.
St. Clair College’s first female president speaks during Wednesday’s official opening of the Patti France Community Promenade at the main campus. Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

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