College Centre Named After Leading Student Advocate

don plaque
Don France unveils his building naming plaque, while SRC Student Publications Managing Editor E.P. Chant looks on.

A long-time student advocate who has served St. Clair students for over 25 years will be honoured by seeing a portion of the Student Centre at Windsor’s main campus named for him.

Most of the first floor of the existing Student Centre and its expansion (the first storey of the new Zekelman School of Business and I.T.’s academic tower) will soon see signage installed to designate it as The Don France Student Commons.

The honour was announced at the April 22nd Change-over Banquet of the Student Representative Council (SRC). That is the annual event when the outgoing SRC Board of Directors (in this case, 2021-22’s) is recognized and replaced by the New Board that will assume office on May 1 (for 2022-23).

France has been a full-time, permanent staff member of the SRC since the mid-1990s, first as its General Manager and for the past several years as its Executive Director. He is now in semi-retirement.

In a banquet speech announcing the designation of the Student Centre in France’s name – a surprise to the recipient – SRC Student Publications Manager E.P. Chant explained that, two years ago, France had been recognized by a national student government organization for his life-long career advocating for student rights and campus services, and for mentoring scores of SRC leaders.

He had been nominated for that award by SRC colleagues, who subsequently considered it odd that France had been honoured nationally but not locally.

So, the council filed a nomination with the college’s Facility Naming Committee to have the Student Centre designated in France’s name. That committee endorsed the idea, and the naming was then officially ratified by the school’s Board of Governors.

In addition to exterior signage in France’s name on the newly expanded Student Centre, plaques will be installed in the interior to describe his background. The text of those plaques read:

THE DON FRANCE STUDENT COMMONS

It is unquestionably fitting that this wing of St. Clair College, renovated in 2021-22, should bear the name of Don France, because he has been the driving force behind the provision of student services – and facilities such as this one – at the school since the mid-1990s.

During that decade, Don was among the student leaders who signed the agreement with the college’s administration which created the original configuration of this Student Centre.

Within months of that, he had transitioned from Student Representative Council (SRC) board member to SRC employee: hired as the Project Manager to oversee the construction of the Student Centre.

And, within months of that appointment, his role was further expanded, as he became the General Manager of the council, overseeing its functions as a campus government, a provider of essential services to students, and a multi-faceted business corporation and property-management entity.

During his quarter-century of service with the SRC, he oversaw two major expansions of this Student Centre/Academic Tower, the construction of the Student Life Centre, and the college’s new Sports Park.

Far more important than those brick-and-mortar projects, however, Don’s role as an advisor and mentor has seen him work with scores of student leaders over the years, teaching them and inspiring them. In cooperation with them, he has ensured that St. Clair students have been provided with an exceptional array of helpful and affordable services during their time at the college.

Now (in 2022) in semi-retirement, Don – holding the title of Executive Director – still regularly provides the SRC with advice and assistance regarding the operation of both the council and its corporation.

On behalf of the Student Representative Council, St. Clair College, its students and employees, this Student Commons is named to both recognize and pay tribute to Don France’s many contributions to the institution.