Brescia alum honoured with honorary degree

June 6, 2012

London, ON –On Monday, June 18th at 3 p.m. as part of Western’s Convocation Ceremony, Brescia alumna Joan Francolini will add an honorary degree from The University of Western Ontario to her lengthy list of achievements and recognitions.

Francolini is a Brescia University College and University of Western Ontario graduate from the class of 1955. She has been an avid champion and supporter of Brescia and Western specifically, and education generally, alongside her husband Geno Francolini, a Western graduate of 1954. As a leader and role model who, throughout her life, has exemplified the core values of the University of Western Ontario and Brescia University College, Francolini has consistently demonstrated integrity and respect in serving the London and Western communities.

Dr. Colleen Hanycz, Principal of Brescia University College, says of Francolini, “I know that the entire Brescia community shares an intense pride in Joan’s many achievements, her passionate leadership and her many contributions to the world around her that have been an enduring priority throughout her life. It is hard to imagine a more deserving recipient for this public honour and, on a personal level, I could not be more delighted for Joan.”

While raising six children, she has dedicated much of her life to charitable, civic, professional, and religious organizations and has championed many initiatives in the city of London and across Canada.

Francolini has served as director on numerous boards, including the YMCA, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario, the Ontario Hospital Association, the Tillsonburg Public Library Board, the Thames Valley District Health Council, London Teaching Hospitals Council, the United Way of London and Middlesex, the London Regional Art Gallery, Let’s Talk Science, the London Community Foundation, and the Robarts Research Institute. Francolini was the first Executive Director of The Lawson Foundation, serving from 1992 to 2001. She has shown outstanding leadership in her role as Chairperson of the boards of Foundation Western, St. Joseph’s Health Care London, Brescia University College Foundation, and the Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital.

Francolini has given selflessly to her community and has been recognized for her commitment with various prestigious awards. She received the 125th Anniversary of Canada Commemorative Medal and the Dr. Ivan Smith Award for Western Alumnus of the Year in 2001. In 2005, Joan was awarded the Order of Ontario. In 2009, she was honoured as one of YMCA’s 2009 Women of Excellence in the Lifetime Achievement category.

Francolini says of the honorary degree, “I was completely surprised when Western called to tell me I would be a recipient of a Western honorary degree. It took me several days to come to the reality of the news. I have remained close to Brescia College and Western University over the years and am very honoured and grateful to Brescia and Western University for this recognition.”

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Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with Western University. The 1,150 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more current and archived news, a listing of faculty experts, and photos please visit our Online Media Room at