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Robert Dutton awarded an honorary PhD

May 7, 2012

Robert Dutton (BBA 1977), President and CEO of RONA, received an honorary PhD on Sunday, May 6, in conjunction with the HEC Montréal undergraduate convocation ceremonies, held in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts.

Robert Dutton is an inseparable part of the RONA story. In 1977, the young HEC Montréal graduate began working for the company, expecting to remain there for only a short time. And yet he is still there 35 years later, and in fact has been its President for the past 20 years!

His abilities, determination and interpersonal skills have allowed RONA to enjoy sustained growth during his time at the helm. In fact, it is now the leading Canadian distributor and retailer of hardware, home renovation and gardening products. The Corporation operates a network of close to 800 corporate, franchise and affiliate stores of various sizes and formats under several banners, as well as 14 distribution centres. Mr. Dutton took the company public in 2002, when RONA was listed on the Toronto Exchange, and in 2006 issued the first RONA debentures on the market.

Mr. Dutton is known for his tremendous ability to encourage people to achieve their full potential and ultimately contribute this energy for the common good. He has imbued the entire company, which now has 30,000 employees across Canada, with a strong corporate culture.

He has always placed a great emphasis on corporate social responsibility, and is himself recognized for his personal commitment, in particular to art therapy for people suffering from mental illness, but also to young people, literacy and other causes. He has been a true friend to the School, always ready to share his experience with students and alumni. He chaired the 1999 fundraising campaign and, in 2007, was a member of the Honorary Committee for HEC Montréal's 100th anniversary celebrations.

In addressing the new graduates at the ceremony, Mr. Dutton urged them to look beyond professional success and to contribute to society, to serve the common good and always use their judgment, with courage. He closed his remarks by saying: “Yours will be a world of opportunities. Make it a world of responsibility, too. No matter how attractive or challenging the possibilities offered to you, never lose sight of your responsibilities to others and to yourselves.”

This year, HEC Montréal awarded some 1,450 undergraduate diplomas: 1,167 Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degrees, 114 of them in the trilingual BBA program, and 289 Bachelor’s degrees of Management and of Science. 

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The title of Doctor honoris causa was conferred on Robert Dutton by the Université de Montréal, at the recommendation of HEC Montréal.

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