Spring 2008 Honorary Degree Recipients Announced
April 15, 2008 –
Edmonton-Twelve honorary degrees will be conferred during Spring Convocation 2008 on May 25 and from June 4-6 and June 9-12, at the Jubilee Auditorium in celebration of the University of Alberta’s Centenary. Bertha (Berdie) Helen Fowler, pioneer for Alberta women and leading advocate for literacy; Pamela Wallin, an outstanding journalist and senior advisor on Canadian affairs for the Council of the Americas; Esko Tapani Aho, distinguished Finnish statesman and prominent advocate for research, development and innovation in Europe; J. Peter Meekison, leading contributor to Canadian federalism and an international advisor on constitutional and human rights issues; Anthony James Pawson, pioneering biomedical researcher and one of only 65 living members of the Order of Companions of Honour; J. Craig Venter, visionary scientist exploring the frontiers of genetics and the fundamental biodiversity of our planet; Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General of Canada and a gifted linguist and communicator; Elizabeth Jones, an internationally respected human nutrition educator and humanitarian; John B. Zoe, visionary chief negotiator for the Tlicho First Nation, the first Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories to sign a land-claims and self-government agreement with Canada;. k. d. lang, an acclaimed singer/songwriter and multi-Juno and Grammy award winner; Alex Simeon Janvier, noted Dene artist and the founding figure of contemporary Aboriginal abstraction; and Felix (Fil) Fraser, distinguished film producer, broadcaster, and founder of the Banff World Television Festival.
Bertha (Berdie) Helen Fowler
A prominent advocate for education, literacy and community service, Fowler is a Distinguished Alumna of the Augustana campus of the University of Alberta in Camrose. Co-founder and editor of the Camrose Booster newspaper, she is a recipient of the Joseph M. Sklenar Editorial Award, for Outstanding Contributions, in 2002 from the Independent Free Press Papers of America, the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2006, and the Camrose Literacy Award in 2007. Fowler was a founding member of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, Crime Stoppers, and the Camrose Children’s Centre. A former city councillor and the first woman in Alberta to be elected president of a Chamber of Commerce, she was also the first woman in Alberta to be appointed to the Alberta Apprenticeship Board and the Board of the Alberta Opportunity Company. Fowler will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree at Augustana Campus on May 25 at 2:30 p.m.
Wallin has made significant contributions to Canada through her endeavours in journalism, diplomacy and public service. Her career in journalism broke new ground as the first woman in Canadian network television history to be appointed Ottawa Bureau Chief (1985) and, later, as co-anchor of the nightly national newscasts for both CTV and CBC. Founder of Pamela Wallin Productions, Inc., she is also a successful entrepreneur and a bestselling author. Appointed by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien as Canada’s Consul General to New York City from 2002 to 2006, Wallin currently serves as senior advisor to the President of the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas. An equally articulate and influential advocate on issues related to health and education, she is chancellor of the University of Guelph and co-chair of the National Strategy Council of the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute in Edmonton. Wallin will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on June 4 at 3 p.m.
Esko Tapani Aho
The youngest prime minister in the history of Finland, Aho championed substantial investments in research and development that have made a significant contribution to Finland’s status as one of the most advanced economies in the world. A graduate of the University of Helsinki with a master’s degree in social science, he served for twenty years as a member of the Finnish parliament, contributing to key committees such as Foreign Affairs, Finance, the Nordic Council, and the Finnish delegations to the Council of Europe. Following his retirement from the Finnish parliament in 2003, he was appointed president of the Sitra, the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development. Aho has led a high-level study group mandated by the European Commission to strengthen research and innovation performance in the European Union, and continues to serve as a member of the Science and Technology in Society Forum, the InterAction Council, and the Club de Madrid. He will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degee on June 5 at 10 a.m.
J. Peter Meekison
Meekison has had a distinguished career in academia and the public service as an Officer of the Order of Canada and an expert on constitutional affairs who authored a proposal for the amending formula that was ultimately incorporated into the Constitution Act, 1981. A former professor, associate dean in the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, and vice-president (Academic) at the University of Alberta, he also served as deputy minister of the Department of Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs for the province of Alberta. His contributions to public policy also includes service on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Meekison is a distinguished international advisor on constitutional and human rights issues and continues to contribute to the advancement of Canadian federalism through the Canada West Foundation and at the request of Canada’s premiers through the Council of the Federation. Meekison will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on June 5 at 3 p.m.
Anthony James Pawson
One of only nine Canadians in history to be named by Queen Elizabeth to the Order of Companions of Honour, Pawson has made outstanding contributions to biomedical research. His research on how cells receive external signals, and how proteins interact with one another, has contributed greatly to our ability to understand why tumours form and how cancer cells spread from tumours to other areas of the body. His pioneering work characterizing tyrosine kinases has formed the basis for cancer therapy based on tyrosine kinases inhibition. As a Distinguished investigator at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at the University of Toronto, he is a Fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Canada, an Officer of the Order of Canada, a member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, and a recipient of a Gairdner Foundation International Award. Pawson will receive an honorary Doctorate of Science degree on June 6 at 10 a.m.
J. Craig Venter
One of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2007, Venter has made revolutionary contributions to our understanding of genomics, microbiology, and the fundamental biodiversity of our planet. Pioneering the use of Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) for gene discovery, he decoded the genome of the first free-living organism, a bacterium. He also pioneered the use of the whole-genome shotgun and assembly method, and, in 2007, decoded his own complete DNA sequence. As founder of Synthetic Genomics Inc., the J. Craig Venter Institute, and The Institute for Genomic Research, he organized the recent three-year Global Ocean Sampling Expedition to assess genetic diversity in marine viral and microbial communities. He is a visionary scientist working at the forefront of exponential trends in biology and information technology. Venter will receive an honorary Doctorate of Science degree on June 9 at 3 p.m.
Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean
Fluent in five languages-Creole, English, French, Italian and Spanish-Her Excellency is the vice-regal representative of the Queen in Canada and a compelling role model for people all across the country. An articulate advocate of social issues, Jean has been involved in aid organizations for immigrant women and families, and actively contributed to the creation of a network of emergency shelters throughout Quebec- and elsewhere in Canada-for women and children in crisis. Anchor for Le Telejournal’s daily edition on Radio-Canada and host for both The Passionate Eye and Rough Cuts on CBC Newsworld, Jean has won numerous honours for her professional achievements. These include the Prix Anik for best information reporting in Canada, the 2001 Gemini Award for best interview in any category, and the inaugural Amnesty International Canada Journalism Award. Her Excellency will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on June 10 at 10 a.m.
Elizabeth Jones introduced and has trained thousands of medical professionals from 48 countries in Kangaroo Care, a program that has saved countless preterm infants by stabilizing their heartbeat, temperature and breathing, through skin-to-skin contact with their mothers or caring adults. Today 82 per cent of neonatal intensive-care units in the United States use kangaroo care. Jones was also one of the first professionals to institutionalize nutrition-program concepts for high-risk infants; she co-founded the Hospital Infantil de las Californias (HIC) in Tijuana, Mexico, and established HIC-supporting foundations in the United States, Mexico and Canada. HIC is a pediatric-specialty facility that provides essential health services to low-income and non-insured children, and the hospital partners with over 30 educational institutions to offer international cross-cultural health-training programs for undergraduate students, medical residents and other interns in health-related fields. Jones will receive an honorary Doctorate of Science degree on June 10 at 3 p.m.
John B. Zoe
A leading statesman and catalyst in launching and resolving the Tlicho negotiations with the Canadian federal government, Zoe is currently the Executive Officer for the Tlicho government. One of the foremost experts on Tlicho history, a custodian of Tlicho culture, and a driving force in the protection and enhancement of the Tlicho language, he helped to create the Behchokö Community Teacher Education Program, which incorporates indigenous education philosophies into a modern curriculum. A widely respected holder of traditional knowledge, Zoe has created a high-school course-the Trails of Our Ancestors Canoe Trip-in which students gain credit for on-the-land experience traveling with elders on the traditional canoe trails of their people. While ensuring that the importance of the land and its wildlife is recognized, he has also negotiated water licenses and environmental agreements with mining companies, contributing to a balanced approach to resource development in the Northwest Territories. Zoe will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on June 11 at 10 a.m.
k. d. lang
An internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter who was born in Edmonton and grew up in Consort, Alta., lang has won eight Juno Awards along with four Grammy Awards. Voted one of the Artists of the Decade by the Canadian Recording Industry Association in 1990, she received the Governor General’s National Arts Centre Award in 2005. An outstanding vocalist who received a BRIT award for Best International Female Artist and was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for her services to music, lang has recorded over thirteen albums, including, Hymns of the 49th Parallel, a showcase for Canadian songwriters. A champion of sexual-minority rights who is committed to the celebration of diversity across all areas of human difference, she is also a member of “artists against racism.” lang draws large audiences at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall and attracts a loyal and diverse, multi-generational following. She will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on June 11 at 3 p.m.
Alex Simeon Janvier
Janvier is a Canadian artist of international stature whose style fuses Aboriginal traditions with modernist abstraction. As a recipient of lifetime achievement awards from the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, the Tribal Chiefs Institute and the Cold Lake First Nations, he was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts in 1992 and was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2007. Earlier this spring he received a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. He has shown his art in over sixty solo and group exhibits, both nationally and internationally. He was a founding member of Professional Native Artists Association, a group of seven Aboriginal artists seeking to market their own work. His mural, “Morning Star,” on the central dome in the Great Hall in the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Que., is a commentary on the history of the Dene people, an illustration of traditional Dene beliefs about creation, and an enduring contribution to the cultural fabric of Canada. Janvier will receive an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree on June 12 at 10 a.m.
Felix (Fil) Fraser
Program director of Canada’s first educational television station and founder of the Banff World Television Festival, Fraser is an award-winning feature film producer who organized and chaired the first Alberta Film Festival in 197 and chaired the first Commonwealth Games Film Festival in 1978. He has served as director of the Media Awareness Network, director of the Vision TV Foundation, chair of the Edmonton Task Force on Access to Information, director of the Edmonton International Film Festival, director of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, and chief commissioner of the Alberta Human Rights Commission. A mentor for many young people across the country and a passionate advocate for the arts, he is a Member of the Order of Canada and is currently the chair of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation. Fraser will receive an honorary Doctorate of Letters degree on June 12 at 3 p.m.
For more information please contact: File No: 16
Dr. Eric Newell, Chancellor, 780-492-2268; April 14, 2008
Derek Roy-Brenneis, Senate, 780-492-0449;
or Sandra Halme, Public Affairs, 780-492-0442.