President France Honoured with Key to the City of Windsor | St. Clair College
Thursday, August 25, 2022
Patti France holding the key to the city while posing with Don France and Mayor Drew Dilkens
College President Patti France (center) was bestowed the key to the city by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens (right). Don France (left) also pictured.

City of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens recently bestowed St. Clair College President Dr. Patti France with the highest award he can honour, the key to the city.

Mayor Dilkens visited St. Clair's main campus on Aug. 24th for the grand reopening of the campus student centre officially named the Don France Student Commons and the unveiling of the state-of-the-art Nexus Esports arena. In a decision not to take away from the celebration of the naming of the Don France Student Commons, Mayor Dilkens gathered family and key associates of President France privately in a separate Esports gaming room after the initial ceremony. He recognized President France and the College for volunteering the use of the SportsPlex as a regional field hospital for COVID-19 patients during the most severe phases of the pandemic.

"There was lots of fear, lots of concern and people were frustrated because we didn't know what was coming next. Things were being put upon us that we had never had to experience before. It was St. Clair College, led by you, Patti, who stepped up right away when we were talking about a field hospital," Mayor Dilkens said. "You told (Windsor Regional Hospital CEO) David Musyj to take the SportsPlex and do what he needed to do to respond to the community. It was amazing to see that response. It was the first field hospital opened and was one of the biggest and probably among the most impressive."

Mayor Dilkens also credited President France for keeping the College open throughout the pandemic and allowing students to continue pursuing their educations - first online and then in person once restrictions were lifted.

"You had the additional responsibility of trying to handle a large student body, many of whom come from overseas. There were a lot of variables to deal with, but you provided clarity and certainty to people. There were many post-secondary educational institutions in Ontario who did not provide that clarity, that made decisions that were expensive for students, and that were not in the student's best interest. At the end of the day, that is not what St. Clair did." Mayor Dilkens continued, "For everything that I saw - and I'm sure there for 100 things behind the scenes that I had no idea about that were equally impressive - I wanted to bestow upon you, on behalf of the City of Windsor, the highest honour that I can give to anyone, which is the key to the city."

An admittedly surprised President France accepted the ceremonial plaque adorned with the City of Windsor's coat of arms, her name engraved in gold lettering and a large key and thanked Mayor Dilkens before he concluded his address by thanking the entire St. Clair College faculty, staff, and community for their combined efforts during the pandemic.

"Patti is the leader, but I know all of you had your own cross to bear throughout all of this," Mayor Dilkens said. "So thank you for working with everyone to ensure we can get through this as a community because we really did."

Brett Hedges