The University of Prince Edward Island extends its condolences on the passing of UPEI honorary degree recipient and founder Frank Zakem after learning of his death after a long illness. He was 81 years old.
UPEI President and Vice-Chancellor Alaa Abd-El-Aziz said, “Our University has lost a great friend in Mr. Zakem. He was a special man and a champion of Prince Edward Island post-secondary education; arts, culture, and heritage; and many community causes. On behalf of the entire UPEI community, I want to pass on my most sincere sympathies to Mr. Zakem’s wife Janet, family, friends, and colleagues.”
Frank Zakem received his education at Prince of Wales College and St. Dunstan’s University earning Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Arts, and Bachelor of Education degrees. He also spent two years at the Grand Seminary of Montreal and completed the Management Development Program for College Administrators at Trent University.
After working in the family food and real estate business, he spent 26 years in administration and served for ten years as Principal of Holland College. For six years, he was seconded to work in various jobs in the office of Premier Joseph Ghiz.
Zakem’s life has always been about leadership and service, as evidenced by his long career in, and dedication to post-secondary education, including teaching at St. Dunstan’s University, helping both UPEI and Holland College honour their institutional heritage, and working in cooperation with the SDU Class of 1954. With the Class of ’54, he helped secure donor funding from the SDU Board and alumni that allowed UPEI’s Robertson Library to launch its digitization program in 2004; this has grown into islandarchives.ca, one of the most ambitious and innovative digital collections’ programs in the country.
A well-known municipal politician, Zakem served fourteen years as a councillor, deputy mayor, and mayor of Charlottetown. As Mayor (1975-77), he promoted a set of heritage guidelines for the promotion and development of the cultural legacy of the city, and oversaw the creation of the Charlottetown Development Corporation. Much of the revitalization seen in the city today can be traced to Zakem’s initiatives. In the 1990s, he served as director of the Federation of PEI Municipalities. Through his many contributions to community, Frank Zakem has demonstrated a deep commitment to serve the people and the province of Prince Edward Island. He was a recipient of the Order of PEI in 2009, was honoured as Founder of the University of Prince Edward Island in 2011, and received an honorary degree in 2012.
Recent UPEI business graduate Emma McPhail met with Zakem in 2011, and said in the citation she prepared for his installation as a founder, “For Frank Zakem, such involvements are as natural as breathing. There are three types of people, Frank is fond of saying, ‘Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who don’t know what happened.’ Mr. Frank Zakem rightly categorizes himself in category number one. This penchant for ‘making things happen’ has earned him our recognition today as a Founder of UPEI.”
Mr. Zakem was married to Janet (Kousaie) and they have four sons: Steven, Kenneth, Bruce, and Albert.
For more information, visit: http://remember.upei.ca/founder/frank-zakem