Burmese Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi leads an impressive
array of people who will receive honorary degrees from Memorial
University during convocation ceremonies next month.
In order of presentation, this spring’s honorary graduands
are Chief Misel Joe of the
Conne River Indian Band, anthropologist Dr.
Elmer Harp, choir leader Susan
Dyer Knight, humanitarians Dr.
Donald and Dr. Elizabeth Hillman, former nursing director
Janet Story, Husky Energy
president John Lau, Aung
San Suu Kyi, and Dr. Bruce
Aylward, co-ordinator of Global Polio Eradication Program.
About 1,800 degrees will be awarded at eight sessions of convocation,
starting with Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook
on Friday, May 7 at 10 a.m. Convocation ceremonies in St.
John’s will take place in the St. John’s Arts
and Culture Centre from May 26-28. There will be three sessions
of convocation on Wednesday, May 26 (10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 7:30
p.m.), and two sessions, at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., on May 27
and May 28.
Chief Misel Joe comes from a long line of saqamaws
or chiefs in the Mi’kmaq territory. Chief Joe was educated
in Mi’kmaq traditions and, after having left the reserve
as a young man, he returned in 1973 and became involved in
band government politics, first as a councillor and after
the death of his uncle, Chief William Joe, he became traditional
saqamaw and the Newfoundland district chief for the Mi’kmaq
Chief Joe is also the spiritual leader of his people and has
presented lectures on native medicines and traditional healing
practices at several international alternative medicine conferences
and hosted the1996 and 2000 International Healing Conference
at Conne River.
He is a member of the Atlantic Policy Congress, the First
Nations Trust Fund, Newfoundland Museum Advisory Committee
and the Aboriginal Capacity and Development Research Centre.
He also holds a community seat at the United Nations (Human
Chief Joe will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College session of convocation held Friday,
Dr. Harp is a professor emeritus of
anthropology at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire,
and his career has included numerous expeditions to the Central
and Eastern Canadian Arctic, and work in Alaska. It was 1949-1950
when he began his archaeological field research in the Eastern
Subarctic where he surveyed the Strait of Belle Isle area
and discovered and tested several Paleo-Eskimo sites on the
west coast of Newfoundland and the Archaic Indian sites in
southern Labrador. He found interior sites with assemblages
of Arctic Small Tool Culture in 1955 while conducting a survey
around the Coronation Gulf and Bathurst Inlet, N.W.T., and
found evidence of five early occupations of the interior Barren
Grounds in 1958 when he explored the lower and middle Thelon
River west of Hudson Bay.
Dr. Harp spent time as a senior Fulbright Research Scholar
in Copenhagen, at the Danish National Museum in 1959, after
which he returned to Newfoundland and excavated in Port au
Choix, Phillip’s Garden on Cape Riche.
One of Dr. Harp’s latest works is a photographic memoir
of outport Newfoundland and Labrador from 1949-1963, titled
Lives and Landscapes.
Dr. Harp will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree
during the 10 a.m. session of convocation on Wednesday, May
Susan Dyer Knight
Susan Dyer Knight is the founder and artistic
director of the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir of St. John’s.
She is also the founder and artistic co-director of Festival
500, an acclaimed biennial international choral festival inaugurated
by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997.
Following her early musical studies with the Sisters of Mercy
and Andreas Barban in St. John’s, she studied at the
University of Toronto, Memorial University of Newfoundland,
Hamline University and the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota,
where she serves on the summer faculty.
Ms. Dyer Knight holds a specialist diploma in the Orff-Schulwerk,
a master of arts in music education and is currently a doctoral
candidate at the University of London, England.
An editor with Oxford University Press, Ms. Dyer Knight is
active internationally as a guest conductor, adjudicator,
lecturer, clinician, and advocate, and has served in executive
positions with provincial and national music and educational
organizations. She was recently awarded membership in the
Order of Canada, the country’s highest honour for lifetime
achievement and was named Memorial University’s alumna
of the year 2000.
Ms. Dyer Knight will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree
at the 3 p.m. session of convocation on Wednesday, May 26.
Donald and Elizabeth Hillman
Drs. Donald and Elizabeth Hillman are Canadian
professors of pediatrics who received the Order of Canada
in 1994 for their work in international child health and development.
They served on the Faculty of Medicine of Memorial University
from 1976 to 1989. At the Janeway Child Health Centre, Dr.
Donald Hillman was physician in chief, and Dr. Elizabeth Hillman
was director of ambulatory education.
Dr. Elizabeth Hillman is a graduate of the University of Western
Ontario and received her postgraduate training in MontrealChildren’s
Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, England,
and Harvard University. She was the first female president
of the Medical Council of Canada.
Dr. Donald Hillman, a graduate of McGill University, received
his postgraduate training at the Montreal General Hospital,
the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and the Massachussets
General Hospital in Boston, and completed his PhD in investigative
medicine at McGill in 1961 where he was associate dean of
The Hillmans were married in 1955 and together they have directed
CIDA-funded programs in Kenya and Uganda. They have also served
as medical consultants in Kuwait, Zambia, Tanzania, Singapore,
Laos, Malaysia, South Africa and Bhutan and completed Canadian
Executive Services Organization (CESO) projects in Kenya,
India, Guyana, the Philippines and Pakistan, as well as working
as senior medical officers for UNICEF in Uganda.
Donald and Elizabeth Hillman will receive honorary doctor
of laws degrees at the 7:30 p.m. session of convocation on
Wednesday, May 26.
Janet Story received her education from Memorial University
College, the University of Toronto, Memorial University and
McGill. After working as a supervisor-instructor at the General
Hospital in St. John’s, Ms. Story was named director
of nursing in 1963, a position she would hold for 20 years.
She also served two terms as president of the Association
of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador, another
term as vice-president.
She also served on the Public Libraries Board, the St. John
Ambulance Association, the board of directors of the Victorian
Order of Nurses, the Canadian Heart Foundation and the Red
Cross, just to name a few of her activities.
Since retiring in 1983, Ms. Story has served on the executive
committee of the Museum Association of Newfoundland and Labrador,
the Archives Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Newfoundland
Historic Trust, and the Botanical Garden, again to name just
a few of the groups she has supported.
For her participation in the life of the province, Ms. Story
was awarded the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2002. Ms. Story
will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the 10 a.m.
session of convocation on Thursday, May 27.
John C. S. Lau
C. S. Lau
John C. S. Lau was appointed CEO of Husky Oil
(now Husky Energy) in 1993. As president and CEO, Mr. Lau
is a member of Husky’s board of directors and is responsible
for Husky’s corporate direction, strategic planning,
and corporate policies. He earned a bachelor of economics
and a bachelor of commerce from the University of Queensland,
Mr. Lau served on the board of governors of the University
of Calgary for six years. He has been a board member of the
Alberta Economic Development Authority and the Canadian Association
of Petroleum Producers.
In 2003, Mr. Lau was instrumental in establishing the first
endowed chair position at Memorial University. The Husky Energy
Chair in Oil and Gas Research will focus on reservoir characterization,
especially the utilization of seismic imaging techniques for
reservoir management and will greatly enhance the petroleum
reservoir team being built by the Faculty of Engineering and
Applied Science and the Department of Earth Sciences.
Mr. Lau will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at
the 3 p.m. session of convocation on Thursday, May 27.
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi is an international symbol of heroic and
peaceful resistance in the face of oppression. She was awarded
the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1991.
Suu Kyi is the daughter of the late Burmese nationalist leader,
General Aung San, whose resistance to British colonial rule
culminated in Burma's independence in 1948. After attending
school in the Burmese capital Rangoon, Aung San Suu Kyi lived
in India, and then went to Britain where she received a BA
at Oxford University.
Aung San Suu Kyi first came to prominence when she returned
to Burma in August 1988 and became the leader of a burgeoning
pro-democracy movement in the aftermath of the brutal repression
of a pro-democratic uprising earlier that summer.
The movement quickly grew into a political party that went
on to win an overwhelming majority 82 per cent in national
elections in 1990, by which time she had already been under
house arrest for a year. She has been under government enforced
house arrest from 1989 to 1995, again from September 2000
to May 2002, and finally from May 2003 to present.
Suu Kyi has received numerous honorary degrees, including
from Cambridge University, Glasgow University and American
University in Washington.
Aung San Suu Kyi will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree
(in absentia) at the 10 a.m. session of convocation on Friday,
Dr. Bruce Aylward’s work as the co-ordinator of the
Global Polio Eradication Program of the World Health Organization
(WHO) has helped to all but eliminate polio from the planet.
The model of polio vaccination that he helped to develop is
now being adapted by health agencies to deliver other forms
of preventative medicine to remote and disadvantaged areas
around the globe.
Dr. Aylward said Memorial was hugely important to his career
and he credits Dr. Ian Bowmer with getting him interested
in infectious diseases.
Dr. Aylward is the first winner of the Memorial University
Alumni Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement. Dr.
Aylward will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at
the 3 p.m. session of convocation on Friday, May 28.
For photos of the honorary degree recipients please visit