Memorial University will present honorary degrees to nine outstanding Canadians during spring convocation and another two during fall convocation.
The honourees at spring convocation are Chris Brookes, documentary radio broadcaster, who will be honoured during convocation at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College; Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire, soldier and humanitarian; writer Wayne Johnston; Moyra Buchan, advocate for people with mental illnesses; Dr. Jack Clark, longtime director of C-CORE; Barbara Hopkins, founding president of the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador; Miller Ayre, businessman and publisher of the Telegram; Bruce Cockburn, singer, songwriter and humanitarian; and Hayley Wickenheiser, captain of the Canadian national women’s hockey team.
At fall convocation, scheduled for Oct. 19 in St. John’s, honorary degrees will be awarded to Dr. Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University, and literary theorist Dr. Linda Hutcheon.
Honorary degree recipients are chosen by the Senate, the university’s academic governing body, after a very careful examination of the grounds for their nomination.
The honorary doctorate 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.
Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook will hold its convocation ceremonies on May 11. In St. John’s, convocation runs at the Arts and Culture Centre from Wednesday, May 23, to Friday, May 25.
Biographical details follow below:
For his contributions to Memorial, the community and business, St. John’s native Miller Ayre will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at spring convocation. A prominent business leader, Mr. Ayre is the publisher of The Telegram, the daily newspaper in St. John’s, and is president of Mansbord Incorporated, as well as provincial chairman of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. Educated at Prince of Wales College in St. John’s, as well as Bishop’s College in Quebec, Mr. Ayre holds an honours degree in Economics from Harvard University and a master of business administration degree from McGill University. A member of the Order of Canada, Mr. Ayre also has a strong connection with Memorial having served as a chairman of the Advisory Board of the Faculty of Business Administration and member of the Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER)’s advisory board. He also regularly assists with the training of Memorial’s business case competition teams. His long list of accomplishments include sitting as chairman of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Retail Council of Canada, the Newfoundland Medicare Commission and as vice chairman of the National Theatre School of Canada. Mr. Ayre is a past president of the Rotary Club of St. John’s and is currently a member of the Advisory Council of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. He will receive his degree at the 10 a.m. session of convocation on May 25.
For his contributions to the development of Newfoundland theatre, and for his internationally-acclaimed documentaries, author, playwright, director and audio producer Chris Brookes will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree during spring convocation ceremonies at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook on May 11. As one of North America’s most celebrated audio documentary producers, Mr. Brookes has spent his career as a disseminator of Newfoundland culture. A longtime advocate for the arts, he established the Resource Foundation for the Arts, now known as the RCA, and was the first executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council. A St. John’s native, he has a BA from Yale and a MA from the University of Michigan. He was the founding artistic director of the Mummers Troupe, a Newfoundland theatre collective best known for their performances of the Traditional Newfoundland Christmas Mummers Play every December from 1972 to 1982. Currently he directs the production company Battery Radio in St. John’s where he has helped produce radio features, documentaries and audio art. His work has heard on public radio in the U.S., Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, England, Sweden, Finland and here in Canada. His documentaries have won more than 30 awards, including a 2006 Peabody Award, as well as a Gracie and New York Radio Festival Grand Award. Other honours include a Prix Italia, an Atlantic Journalism Award and an honour from the Canadian Association of Journalists. Mr. Brookes has directed and produced documentaries for Canadian network television and in 1998 was nominated for a Gemini Award for best writing in a documentary program or series. He has taught feature making and storytelling at radio festivals and workshops across North America. A recipient of the Order of Canada, Mr. Brookes was inducted into the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Hall of Honour in 1997.
A native of Scotland who has lived in Newfoundland and Labrador since 1979, Moyra Buchan will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during spring convocation for her contributions to the recognition and solution of mental health problems in this province. For 15 years, Ms. Buchan worked tirelessly as the executive director of the Newfoundland and Labrador division of the Canadian Mental Health Association and remains a key advocate on mental health and social justice issues. Her major work has been in public education, advocacy and community development in the areas of mental health and mental illness. She has been involved in many community advocacy coalitions and was the founding co-chair of the Community Alliance for Better Solutions. Ms. Buchan is currently a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Association of Social Workers and is a former member of the Premier’s Council on Social Development. Since 2006, she has been a consultant and the community partnerships co-ordinator with Stella Burry Community Services. Ms. Buchan holds a master of arts (honours) degree in English from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, as well as an MA in English Literature from the University of Alberta and a master of social work (equiv.) degree from the University of Stirling in Scotland. She will receive her degree at the 7:30 p.m. session of convocation on May 23.
Dr. Jack Clark
For his contribution to Memorial University, the community and to the engineering profession, Dr. Jack Clark will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at spring convocation. A graduate of Acadia University, the University of Alberta and the Technical University of Nova Scotia, Dr. Clark served as president of C-CORE from 1984 to 1997 and its principal consultant from 1997 to 2005. Under his leadership, C-CORE became an international engineering research and development organization with significant benefit accruing to Memorial and to this province. Dr. Clark had more than 25 years experience in the geotechnical engineering consulting prior to his move to Newfoundland. In 2005, he received the highest award in Canadian engineering, the Gold Medal of the Canadian Council of Professional Engineers, for his lifetime contribution to the engineering profession. Dr. Clark has also been a leader in his profession. He was vice-president of a national research funding agency, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) from 1992 to 1994. He has served as editor and reviewer for geotechnical journals and publications. Dr. Clark is an officer of the Order of Canada, holds three honorary degrees, and has received many national and international awards in geotechnical engineering and research management. He will receive his degree at the 10 a.m. session of convocation on May 24.
Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee Bruce Cockburn will be honoured for his music and his commitment to the betterment of the world with an honorary doctor of letters degree during spring convocation. Born in Ottawa, his career has spanned four decades and includes more than 25 albums with music ranging from folk to jazz-influenced rock. He has received numerous international awards and 20 gold and platinum records in Canada. Mr. Cockburn released his first solo work in 1970; his exceptional guitar work and songwriting skills quickly garnered an enthusiastic following. His 1979 song Wondering Where the Lions Are was a national hit in Canada and reached the top 25 on the Billboard charts in the United States. In the 1980s, he travelled extensively throughout the world and his trips included several fact-finding visits to developing countries in areas such as Central America. Those journeys in turn helped inspired such hit songs like If I Had a Rocket Launcher. He was one of the first Canadian artists to foster an international career while remaining in Canada. A vocal supporter of well-known organizations such as Amnesty International, Friends of the Earth and OXFAM, Mr. Cockburn has spent much of his career as a political activist and humanitarian and has been a spokesperson for the movement to ban land mines. He was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in the early 1980s and promoted within the order to the level of officer in 2002. His music has earned him a Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and nine Juno awards. He has received honorary degrees from York University in Toronto, Berklee College of Music in Boston, and from St. Thomas University in New Brunswick. He will receive his degree at the 3 p.m. session of convocation on May 25.
Lt.-Gen. Roméo A. Dallaire
For his leadership of Canada’s peace-keeping efforts, Lt.-Gen. Roméo Dallaire will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at spring convocation. Lt.-Gen. Dallaire had a distinguished 35-year career in the military. His dedication to world peace, self-sacrifice and courage saved the lives of thousands of people in 1994, when he led the United Nations mission in Rwanda. He was later recognized with one of Canada’s most prestigious military honours, the Meritorious Service Cross. Born in the Netherlands, Lt.-Gen. Dallaire joined the Canadian army cadets at 14, and attended the Royal Military College at St-Jean and Kingston. In 1996 he was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal by the United States and later that year he became chief of staff of the assistant deputy minister (personnel) group. In 1998 he became assistant deputy minister (human resources – military). In 1999 Lt.-Gen. Dallaire was appointed special advisor to the chief of the defence staff on officer professional development. In the spring of 2000, Lt.-Gen. Dallaire retired early from the military to become special advisor to the Canadian minister for international co-operation, tending to the plight of children in war-torn countries. He was invested in the Order of Canada in 2002. His internationally recognized book Shake Hands With The Devil – The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda was awarded the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction in 2004. He was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 2005. He will receive his degree at the 10 a.m. session of convocation on May 23.
Barbara Joan Hopkins
For her work in contributing to the understanding and treatment of autism, Barbara Hopkins will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at spring convocation. Born in Toronto, Ms. Hopkins earned a BA (hons.) from Dalhousie University, and continued her studies at the University of Maine and the University of British Columbia. Ms. Hopkins worked as a social worker in Halifax and a counsellor in British Columbia before moving to Newfoundland and Labrador where she worked with the Avalon Consolidated School Board before starting a lengthy association with Memorial University. For over six years she was an assistant professor in the Research, Diagnostic and Remedial Unit, Institute for Research in Human Abilities. In 1978, she became director of the unit and from 1982-1996, she was an assistant professor with the Faculty of Education. However, Ms. Hopkins is best known for her volunteer work, particularly with the Autism Society of Canada and the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador of which she is a co-founder. She was a member of the board of the provincial Autism Society since inception and made president in 1993, the same year she ended a five year term as president of the Autism Society of Canada. A highlight was the opening of the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism on Shamrock Farm on the grounds of Memorial University in 2006. She will receive her degree at the 3 p.m. session of convocation on May 24.
Dr. Linda Hutcheon
For her work as an exceptional scholar, teacher and member of the academic community, Dr. Linda Hutcheon will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during fall convocation in St. John’s on Friday, Oct. 19. A specialist in postmodernist culture and in critical theory, on which she has published nine books, Dr. Hutcheon holds the rank of university professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto and has been a visiting professor in Italy, Puerto Rico and parts of the U.S. Her many books on literary subjects have established her as a major literary theorist in North America. Born in Toronto, she obtained both her bachelor of arts and PhD degrees from the University of Toronto, as well as her MA from Cornell University. Dr. Hutcheon has spent much of her career examining, teaching and publishing in the field of Canadian literature and has translated the work of Quebec writers Félix Leclerc and Madeleine Gagnon. Her scholarly achievements have been recognized through several awards and honours. Among her research grants and fellowships, she has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Killam Research Fellowship. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Hutcheon was elected the 117th president of the Modern Language Association of America in 2000, making her the third Canadian to hold this position and the first Canadian woman.
As one of this province’s most prolific and admired authors, Goulds native Wayne Johnston will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree for his contributions and internationally-acclaimed achievement as both a novelist and memoirist. Mr. Johnston started his writing career as a reporter with the now defunct St. John’s Daily News before deciding to devote his time to novels. He obtained his bachelor of arts degree from Memorial in 1979 and in 1984 earned a master of arts degree in creative writing from the University of New Brunswick. His first novel, The Story of Bobby O’Malley, was critically praised and won the WH Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award in 1985. His subsequent books proved to be even more successful. The Colony of Unrequited Dreams, published in 1998, won the Canadian Authors’ Association Best Novel Award, the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year honour, and the New York Public Libraries Best Book Award. It was also a shortlist for the Booker Prize and was named by the Globe and Mail as one of the 100 most important Canadian books ever produced, including both fiction and non-fiction. His subsequent works, Baltimore’s Mansion and The Navigator of New York were met with equal praise. His books have been adapted for film, stage, television and radio. In fact, he won the Best Screenplay award for his novel The Divine Ryans at the Atlantic Film Festival. Since 2004, Mr. Johnston has held the distinguished chair in creative writing at Hollins University in Virginia and was a former writer-in-residence and guest lecturer in creative writing at Memorial. In 2003, he received an honorary degree from the University of New Brunswick. He will receive his degree at the 3 p.m. session of convocation on May 23.
Dr. Shirley M. Tilghman
For her contributions to higher education, Dr. Tilghman will be awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree during fall convocation 2007. Dr. Tilghman is the president of Princeton University, the prestigious institution’s 19th president since its founding in 1746. Dr. Tilghman is a native of Canada who holds a B.Sc. (hons.) in chemistry from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and a PhD in biochemistry from Temple University in Philadelphia. She did postdoctoral studies at the U.S. National Institutes of Health, participating in cloning the first mammalian gene. A member of the National Research Council’s committee that set the blueprint for the United States effort in the Human Genome Project, she also was one of the founding members of the National Advisory Council of the Human Genome Project Initiative for the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Tilghman was appointed to the faculty of Princeton University’s Department of Molecular Biology in 1986 and served as founding director of Princeton’s multidisciplinary Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. She assumed office as president of Princeton University in June 2001. She is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine and the Royal Society of London. She also serves as a trustee of the Jackson Laboratory, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Google Inc. She will receive her degree at the Oct. 19 session of convocation.
Hayley Wickenheiser will be awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at spring convocation for her athletic achievements, her dedication to advancing the cause of women in sport and her perseverance. A native of Shaunavon, Saskatchewan, Ms. Wickenheiser was the assistant captain of Canada’s gold medal-winning teams at the 2002 Salt Lake City and 2006 Torino Winter Olympics and named the MVP in both games. Recently named captain of Team Canada, Ms. Wickenheiser has been described as the greatest female hockey player in the world. She has lived and trained for the past 16 years in Calgary, where she is also pursuing a B.Sc. degree at the University of Calgary. Picked for the Canadian women’s national hockey team at age 15, Ms. Wickenheiser has since led the Canadian women’s national squad to five gold medals and one silver medal at the Women’s World Hockey Championships, a silver medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan and two Olympic Gold medals at the Winter Olympics in 2002 and 2006. In January 2003, Ms. Wickenheiser skated into history as the first female hockey player to notch a point in a men’s professional game, with Kirkkonummen Salamat of the Finnish second division. Aside from a phenomenal on-ice career, Ms. Wickenheiser is also an elite softball player, taking part in the 2000 Summer Olympics as a member of Team Canada. She will receive her degree at the 7:30 p.m. session of convocation on May 25.