Remembering Dr. Lewis Perinbam (1925 – 2007)

It is with great sadness that World University Service of Canada (WUSC) marks the passing of Dr. Lewis Perinbam, O.C. on December 12, 2007.

Photo of Lewis PerinbamDr. Perinbam served as WUSC’s Executive Director from 1953-59, a period during which WUSC was incorporated as a non-profit international development organization. During his tenure, he also spearheaded WUSC’s efforts to resettle and support students fleeing the communist takeover of Hungary, a precursor to today’s Student Refugee Program. He helped launch WUSC’s popular Treasure Van (later Caravan), an annual sale of crafts from developing countries on campuses across Canada.

Concurrently, Dr. Perinbam participated in five WUSC International Seminars – India (1953), Europe & West Africa (1954), Japan (1955), Germany (1956) and Ghana (1957). He received the WUSC Alumni Award in 1997.

“Lewis was often described as the heart and soul of WUSC,” says Alastair Summerlee, President of the University of Guelph and current chair of the WUSC Board of Directors. “Throughout his long and distinguished career, he remained steadfast in his commitment to our organization and in his belief that, no matter the global challenges we face, universities and colleges have a vital role to play in building a more humane and just world.”

Since 1983, the Lewis Perinbam Award in International Development has recognized exceptional grassroots achievements in improving life in developing countries and increasing awareness of those countries among Canadians. The award, which is presented at WUSC’s Annual Assembly, will continue to serve as a lasting testament to his lifelong devotion to international cooperation and increased global understanding.

Among his many professional accomplishments, Dr. Perinbam served as the first Secretary General of the Canadian National Commission for UNESCO; Vice-President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) from 1974 to 1991; advisor to the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; and Chair of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) from 2003 to 2006.

Recipient of honorary doctorates from five Canadian universities, he authored or contributed to several books on international development. He also served on the boards of the Greater Vancouver Citizenship Council, the Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) and the Canadian Organisation for Development through Education (CODE) among others.

Dr. Perinbam was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1998 and was the recipient of the 2001 Sir Edmund Hillary Humanitarian Award and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for 2002.

To make a donation to the Lewis Perinbam award, click here.