More than 2,000 degrees will be awarded at Memorial University’s annual spring convocation at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre next week. There will be eight sessions of convocation from May 26-29, 2009. The university is also celebrating the 100th regular convocation. In addition, outstanding individuals from the worlds of business, politics and academia will be awarded honorary degrees during the convocation ceremonies.
The honourees include: former federal cabinet minister and Nobel Prize nominee Lloyd Axworthy; traditional singer and archivist Anita Best; celebrated author Richard Gwyn; physician and administrator Dr. Linda Inkpen; acclaimed theatre director and instructor Jillian Keiley; anthropologist Dr. Robert Paine; environmentalist and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki; and volunteer and philanthropist Sam Walters. Noted photographer Ben Hansen was honoured at convocation ceremonies held at Grenfell College on May 15.
Honorary degree recipients are chosen from nominations from the public by the Senate, the university's academic governing body, after a very careful examination of the grounds for their nomination. The honorary doctorate degree is designed to recognize extraordinary contribution to society or exceptional intellectual or artistic achievement.
The awarding of honorary doctorates, an important feature of Memorial's convocation, serves to celebrate both the individual and the university, as well as to inspire graduates, their families and guests.
To celebrate its 100th regular convocation, Memorial University commissioned new Convocation music that is being premiered this spring and has published a book of selected orations.
The call to Canadian composers went out in December asking for an original suite of ceremonial music for Memorial's convocations from now on. Dr. Michael Parker was selected. Dr. Parker had a long and distinguished career as a professor of classics at Memorial's Sir Wilfred Grenfell College campus and as a composer whose music has been commissioned, recorded and performed across Canada.
"I am really, really pleased," Dr. Parker said earlier this year. "I have been at Grenfell for 30 years in education and it is very exciting to compose music for what is the climax of a student's journey. This is a wonderful opportunity to combine my interest in classics and music."
Also in the spirit of commemoration, university orator Prof. Shane O’Dea has collected and edited a selection of orations from previous years. Prof. O'Dea has been public orator at the university since 1995. His compilation of orations celebrates the work of the university's orators over the years and the lives and careers of the distinguished graduands who they present to Convocation. The book is also an homage to Dr. George Story, Memorial's first public orator, appointed when the post was established in 1960. He held the position until his death in 1994. Dr. Story was a distinguished scholar best known as one of the authors of the Dictionary of Newfoundland English. Orations: A Selection of Orations from Memorial's Convocations contains 36 orations from 12 different orators and is available at the university bookstore on the St. John's campus.
Memorial’s acting president, Dr. Eddy Campbell, will deliver his report to convocation during the 10 a.m. session of convocation on Friday, May 29.
The university is also developing an eight-page Convocation supplement in collaboration with The Telegram. The May 30 feature — bound to be a keepsake for graduates and their families – will feature the names of the graduates together with stories on the notable achievements of some graduates.
Memorial’s spring convocation is also being broadcast live on the World Wide Web. More details about this Internet broadcast are available at the convocation website, located at www.mun.ca.