A statement from the President on the passing of Alex Trebek

Posted on Sunday, November 8, 2020

A statement from the President  on the passing of Alex Trebek:


A tribute to Alex Trebek 

It is with great sadness that uOttawa acknowledges today the passing of Alex Trebek, who was both one of our most beloved alumni and one of our community’s most passionate supporters. We mourn his loss and we extend our deepest sympathies to his family. 


Alex Trebek was raised in Sudbury in a bilingual household, and first came to Ottawa to attend the University of Ottawa High School. After graduating in 1957 he moved on to the University of Ottawa, where among other activities, he was a member of the Gee-Gees basketball team, playing for the garnet and grey during his senior year for the 1960-1961 season.  He graduated with a degree in Classical Philosophy, his major chosen, he later explained, because philosophy classes were held in the morning, allowing him to work in the afternoon and evening to earn his tuition.  


Alex never forgot his time at uOttawa and over the years he was a generous supporter of his alma mater. His gifts founded the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue, and his namesake Innovation and Challenge Fund, as well as his Distinguished Lecture Series and Leadership Award. He was a significant contributor to the creation of the Alex Trebek Alumni Hall.  His contributions were such that he was awarded the keys to the city of Ottawa for “his philanthropy and activism, his unrelenting commitment to higher education, and his steadfast loyalty to the University of Ottawa." 


Alex’s career successes were recognised time and time again. He was the recipient of 5 Daytime Emmy awards, including in 2011 a Lifetime Achievement Award.  His star shines on both the Toronto and Hollywood Walks of Fame. In 2017 he was appointed Officer to the Order of Canada “For his iconic achievements in television and for his promotion of learning, notably as a champion for geographical literacy.” 


Over the years, contestants on Jeopardy! came and went, but Alex remained the show’s ever vigilant host. He assured the precision and exactitude of each response, all the while engaging contestants with an affable charm that put them at ease, soothing their shortcomings and championing their successes. His sincerity and civility were a model to us all.  


The world knew Alex as the charismatic host of Jeopardy!, but here at uOttawa we knew Alex as an engaged and engaging man, a unique and caring individual who dedicated his philanthropy to the creation and sustaining of programs to promote civic dialogue. As he said, speaking of his lecture series, “For me, the University of Ottawa is the ideal institution to host the series, as it is the place that first exposed me to the world and to the possibilities of big ideas.”  


Alex spent many years sharing the right questions with the world on Jeopardy!. It is fitting that his gifts will allow future generations of students at uOttawa to continue asking the right questions, and finding important new answers that benefit us all.  


We are grateful to Alex, and like so many others, we will miss him. 


Please visit our Tribute to Alex Trebek page.

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