Gerry Palmer went from a young lawyer to a seasoned University of Fraser Valley (UFV) professor, and he can add yet another prestigious award to his already storied record.
Palmer is this year’s winner of of the UFV Faculty Service Excellence Award, according to an announcement from the university on Wednesday (May 20).
The Abbotsford lawyer and Harrison Hot Springs councillor has served as a UFV instructor since 1983, beginning as a business administration instructor. After working seasonally, he started as a permanent instructor in 1998.
Palmer is a founding member of the UFV Senate and has been serving for the past 11 years, helping shape the governing body as UFV rose to university status.
Former UFV president Mark Evered nominated Palmer.
“I can’t think of another member of UFV who has been so engaged, so dedicated, and so effective in their contribution to the social, cultural and economic development of our region,” Evered said. “Gerry understands better than most, I believe, that the responsibilities of a university and its faculty extend well beyond the campus. And he has delivered.”
Former Abbotsford mayor George Peary also had a role in Palmer’s nomination.
“Gerry epitomizes service beyond the classroom or the courtroom,” Peary said. “Our community is better because of his tireless efforts. To my mind, Gerry Palmer personifies this award.”
Palmer has been the director of the Abbotsford Downtown Business Association for 17 years and is its current president. He has further received the Order of Abbotsford (a high service honour from the city) and is listed among the Abbotsford News‘ 100 Most Influential People.
In spite of what those who would vouch for him would say, Palmer said his time volunteering is “not selfless, it’s selfish.”
“You get to fill gaps that other people aren’t able to fill and make a difference for those who wouldn’t otherwise have better lives,” Palmer said in a statement. “I’ve found that I can have huge impact on the community by being on non-profit boards. It allows you to make a greater community impact that you can with your own time and money.”
“The best thing I can do if I want my kids to get out and be involved in the community is to get out in the community myself,” Palmer added.
Palmer is a key player in revitalizing the core of downtown Abbotsford.
“For a long time the municipal government wasn’t a big fan of the downtown. They wanted the new shiny baubles of shopping centres and malls,” he said. “But now they love downtown.”
Palmer said he enjoys seeing the fruits of his labour when it comes to UFV.
“It’s been fine being a lawyer but I don’t sit there thinking I conveyed a thousand houses efficiently so I must be some kind of special,” Palmer said. “But when you have former students come up to you 15 years later and say ‘your lessons helped my businesses succeed in ways it wouldn’t have otherwise,’ that makes you feel pretty good.”
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