Ontario’s York University confers honorary doctorate on Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata
Ratan Tata (centre) at York University
YORK University conferred an honorary doctor of laws degree on Ratan Tata, a world renowned business leader and philanthropist, at the 2014 spring convocation of the Schulich School of Business on June 20.

Tata was among the 12 honorary doctorate recipients from York University this spring.

“Each of these diversely talented and principled leaders is distinguished in his or her field, and all have demonstrated a commitment to higher learning, social justice and service to society that makes them the best possible role models for our graduates,” said York University President and Vice Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri.

Upon receiving the honorary degree, Tata said, “I just want to tell you how deeply indebted and deeply moved I am to receive this honour that you have bestowed.” He added, “I had no idea that this university and this business school had done the various things … [and] moved beyond the shores of Canada to reflect the internationality of the world we live in today.”

The Chairman Emeritus of the Mumbai-based Tata Sons and Chairman of the Tata Trusts urged the graduates to not only work toward their own success but the success of others so that they are remembered for their good work.

He said, “As you go out into the world, many of you will be leaders of countries and or businesses — just remember that there are millions of people who are less fortunate than you are and that hopefully one of the achievements you will make in your life will be making a difference.”

Speaking on the occasion, Dezso J. Horvath, Dean of Schulich, noted that Tata embodied core values and principles taught at the business school, including a global mindset; an ingrained belief that business can help improve society; an unbending commitment to excellence in all aspects of business; and a spirit of innovation. He told the graduating class, “If there is an individual you should look to as a role model throughout the course of your business careers, it would have to be today’s honorary degree recipient, Ratan Tata.”

Horvath added, “For inspiration, you can look to Ratan Tata, who history will record as one of the great architects of modern India and one of the great global visionaries in business. The values and qualities he demonstrated — a desire to connect with the world, a drive for excellence, a quest for innovation — these are qualities that we at Schulich also aspire to.”

According to a citation read by Professor Dirk Matten, while there were many reasons to honour the industrialist, the most inspiring feature of his life and career has been that Tata has always gone beyond conventional wisdom, trusting his judgement, and worked very hard to turn his own vision into reality. Matten quoted him as saying, “I don’t believe in taking right decisions; I take decisions and then make them right.”