This November, Robert Kouri, first Chairman of the Faculty Advisory Board for the McGill Centre for Education (now School of Continuing Studies - SCS) and donor of ‘The Joan & Robert Kouri Bursaries for Continuing Studies Students’ turned 98-years old. Let us congratulate him on a rewarding life with hopefully, many more years to come!
Mr. Kouri shares a strong history with McGill, as he met his wife and soulmate of 63 years, Joan Lylian Bosada Kouri, while they attended McGill University. Mr. Kouri was working towards a High School Teaching Diploma at McGill's Faculty of Education, while Joan was earning her B. A. and M.A. After they both completed their respective degrees, Mr. Kouri would begin his long and illustrious career in Montreal's educational system. He eventually became a School Principal. Many of his former students today are leaders in Montreal and beyond.
Mr. Kouri built lasting bridges across the diverse communities that make up Montreal. For example, while Principal of Baron Byng High School during the 1970s, he founded the first exchange program between an English and nearby French school. This initiative helped foster better understanding and reduce conflict between English and French-speaking Montrealers. A lifelong advocate for inclusive societies, he also was president of the Montreal Urban Community’s interracial relations committee, bringing together 29 diverse municipalities across the island.
Mr. Kouri's accomplishments in the community earned him a seat on various committees in Montreal, including the Montreal Urban Community group, where he served as President. Later, he would become the Chairperson of the Montreal Transit Society's Complaints Committee, solving transportation issues and promoting public transit.
Mr. Kouri’s path to McGill echoes that of many of the McGill School of Continuing Studies learners. One of nine children and a first generation Canadian, he could not afford tuition and considered McGill University out of reach. He had to complete his undergraduate degree elsewhere but returned to McGill for post-graduate education. Initially admitted to study dentistry at McGill, he was inspired to take up teaching instead, with the help of the McGill Faculty of Education. He eventually became a prominent member at the Canadian College of Teachers. At its 50th Anniversary Conference, he happened to meet then Dean of McGill's Centre for Continuing Education who invited Mr. Kouri to join and chair the Faculty Advisory Board. For nearly 30 years, Mr. Kouri also taught English as a Second Language at SCS as well as the University of Montreal.
Now, Mr. Kouri spends his time writing, enjoying the outdoors, going out for breakfast, and contributing to the schools he helped build and influence over the years. His advice on having a long, productive, and meaningful life is to keep moving, foster rewarding relationships, find a supportive partner, and help the less fortunate whenever possible.