Skip To Content

Athabasca University

Past Honorary Degree Recipients

2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002

2013 Recipients

Honorary Doctor of Laws

Sylvain Voyer

Photo of Sylvain VoyerOn Friday, June 7, 2013, an honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Sylvain Voyer in recognition of his contributions to the arts in Alberta. Having painted Alberta for more than 50 years, Voyer is best known for his plein aire paintings of sweeping skies, vibrant fields, valleys and meadows, and autumn poplars. He has shown Albertans how to see their province. In 1973, he was a co-founder of the alternative Edmonton gallery Latitude 53. He helped establish the Canadian Artists' Representation and was influential in forming the Alberta Art Foundation during Peter Lougheed's time, serving as a member of its first Board of Directors. In 2000, he was voted one of Alberta's top 10 artists of the twentieth century by an independent panel of art historians and artists from across the province.

Honorary Doctor of Science

Robert (Bob) McDonald

Photo of Bob Mcdonald

On Saturday, June 8, 2013, an honorary Doctor of Science will be conferred on Robert (Bob) McDonald in recognition of his ongoing contributions to public awareness of science in Canada. One of Canada's best known science journalists, McDonald is the host of CBC Radio's Quirks and Quarks, a regular science commentator on CBC News Network and a science correspondent for CBC TV's The National. His work has been recognized by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Canadian Institute, and he has received honorary degrees from six Canadian universities. In 2010, McDonald became the first Canadian to be named an honorary life member of the Sigma XI Society, the oldest scientific body in the United States.


2012 Recipients

Honorary Doctor of Laws

Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana

On Thursday, June 7, 2012 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Dr. Nyameko Barney Pityana in recognition of his ongoing commitment to human rights. Dr. Pityana served as Chairman of the South African Human Rights Commission from 1995 to 2001 and also served on the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights at the Organisation of African Unity in 1997. His work in human rights has been widely recognized, and in December 2002, he was awarded an Honourable Mention of the 2002 UNESCO Prize for Human Rights Education.

Honorary Doctor of Laws

John (Jack) Brink

Photo of John Brink


On Friday, June 8, 2012 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on John (Jack) Brink in recognition of his contributions to the field of archaeology, specifically PreContact Archeaology of Alberta and the Northern Plains of North America. Jack Brink has published extensively, principally concerning Plains archaeology and specifically that of Head-Smashed-in Buffalo Jump, but also about the Arctic. His book “Imagining Head Smashed In: Aboriginal Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains”, published by Athabasca University Press, won the second annual Felicia A. Holton Book Award from the Archaeological Institute of America in 2011. He has mentored many students, and has served as the President of the Canadian Archaeological Association and the Plains Anthropological Association. He has tirelessly worked towards the development and ongoing promotion of the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and the Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park.

Honorary Doctor of Athabasca University

Dr. John Willinsky

Photo of John Willinsky

On Saturday, June 9, 2012 an Honorary Doctor of Athabasca University will be conferred on Dr. John Willinsky in recognition of his advocacy of open access, particularly the free and widespread dissemination of knowledge through Open Educational Resources. Dr. Willinsky has published extensively and has actively advocated for the Open Access Community at numerous scholarly conferences. He has distinguished himself throughout his career, attaining appointments at Stanford University’s School of Education; as Pacific Press Professor Literacy and Technology and Distinguished University Scholar at the University of British Columbia. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his scholarly work, including awards from the American Education Research Society; the History of Education Society, and the 2006 Blackwell’s Scholarship Award.

2011 Recipients

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws

Mr. Dempsey Bob

On Thursday, June 9, 2011, an honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Mr. Dempsey Bob in recognition of the historical and cultural significance of his art and his commitment to the preservation of Tahltan-Tlingit artistry. A celebrated artist, Mr. Bob is also a dedicated teacher, who believes in giving back to the community. He has served in many teaching positions in western Canada and Alaska. His work is included in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Royal British Columbia Museum, the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology, the Smithsonian Institution, the Columbia Museum of Ethnology, Japan’s National Museum of Ethnology, Canada House in London, England, the Museum für Völkerkunde in Hamburg, Germany, and Centennial Museum in Ketchikan, Alaska.

2010 Recipients

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws

Hon. Raymond Charles Lee

Hon. Raymond Charles LeeOn Thursday, June 10, 2010, an honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Hon. Raymond Charles Lee in recognition of his dedication to the preservation of Chinese Canadian history in Alberta and the integration of Asian Canadians into the mainstream of Canadian society and in recognition of his work in fostering understanding, openness and good relations between Asian and non Asian Canadians. Mr. Lee played a national leadership role in reconciling longstanding misunderstandings between Chinese Canadians and their fellow citizens, serving as an advisor in the development of national policy. His work helped bring about the Government of Canada’s historic 2006 apology to the Chinese Canadian community for the Chinese head tax and the Exclusion Act with which it was associated. Mr. Lee was appointed as a citizenship judge for Calgary, Alta., in December 2006 and served in that capacity until November 2009.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science

Mr. Bill St. Arnaud

Mr. Bill St. ArnaudOn Friday, June 11, 2010, an honorary Doctor of Science will be conferred on Mr. Bill St. Arnaud in recognition of his technical leadership in the design of Canada’s national research network and his tireless efforts to promote the effective use of this network. During his tenure as director of Network Projects at CANARIE Inc., Mr. St. Arnaud championed the building of a Canada-wide academic research network based on emerging fibre-optic technologies. This development resulted in an almost unlimited supply of bandwidth for academic communication and research. Mr. St. Arnaud is a member of the Internet Society and, in 2005, was the recipient of the World Technology Network’s Communications Technology Award.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws

Dr. Lawrence Lessig

Dr. Lawrence LessigOn Saturday, June 12, 2010, an honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Dr. Lawrence Lessig in recognition of his outstanding work in advocacy and support of fair copyright legislation. Dr. Lessig is a strong advocate of fair use, open access and open source. He has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, and was named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries for his argument “against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online.” Dr. Lessig is director of the Edmond J. Safra Foundation Center for Ethics at Harvard University, and a professor of law in the Harvard Law School. Prior to his current appointment at Harvard University, he was a professor in the Stanford Law School and founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society. Previously, he was the Berkman Professor of Law in the Harvard Law School, a professor at the University of Chicago and a clerk for both Judge Richard Posner on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

2009 Recipients

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws

Dr. Jean Linse Pettifor

Dr. Jean Linse PettiforOn Thursday, June 11, 2009 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Dr. Jean Linse Pettifor in recognition of her lifelong commitment to breaking down barriers to education, her selfless mentoring of those around her, and her scholarship and compassionate leadership in professional ethics. Dr. Pettifor is a registered psychologist, a provincial, national and international mentor, and an adjunct professor with the University of Calgary. Throughout her career, Dr. Pettifor has worked tirelessly towards the elimination of barriers to education on behalf of those who need it most (due to poverty, gender, immigration status), and has ceaselessly given of herself through the mentoring of those around her. Dr. Pettifor has the reputation as the “Grandmother of Canadian Ethics” and her current work on international standards of psychological ethics, embodies Canadian values at an international level.

THE HONORARY DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF LETTERS

Ovide William Mercredi

Ovide William MercrediOn Friday, June 12, 2009 an Honorary Doctor of Letters will be conferred on Ovide William Mercredi in recognition of his outstanding contribution to public service and lifetime commitment to the peaceful preservation and celebration of Indigenous peoples’ rights. Ovide Mercredi is celebrated as a leader, Indigenous rights advocate and peace activist. His notion of egalitarianism and fairness, as well as his sense of community obligation, led him to the position of Regional Chief in the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and ultimately in 1991 he began the first of two terms as the National Chief of the AFN during which time he demonstrated a commitment to peaceful resolution of differences, and to the rejuvenation of traditional Indigenous teachings in contemporary settings.

THE HONORARY DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF LAWS

Mr. Neil Reimer

Mr. Neil ReimerOn Saturday, June 13, 2009 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Mr. Neil Reimer in recognition of the outstanding contribution he has made to the betterment of the lives of working people in Alberta and indeed Canada and the world. Mr. Reimer’s efforts as a trade union organizer, trade union official, politician, and social activist have resulted in better representation and better working conditions for Alberta workers, and improved social policies for Alberta workers and seniors. Mr. Reimer is also known as a strong advocate for making post-secondary education more accessible to working people.

2008 Recipients

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws

Professor Patricia Anne Monture

Professor Patricia Anne MontureOn Thursday, June 12, 2008 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Professor Patricia Anne Monture, Director of the Aboriginal Justice and Criminology program at the University of Saskatchewan.  Professor Monture’s  commitment to academic excellence in both research and teaching has had a tremendous effect on Indigenous Studies, Women’s Studies, Law and Sociology.  She is a highly sought-after international lecturer, whose work has been acknowledged by Indigenous communities world-wide.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science

Dr. Janice Morse

Dr. Janice MorseOn Friday, June 13, 2008 an Honorary Doctor of Science will be conferred on Dr. Janice Morse, Professor and the Ida May “Dotty” Barnes, RN , and D. Keith Barnes, MD, Presidential Endowed Chair in the College of Nursing at the University of Utah.  Dr. Morse has effectively reached an international audience of scholars in the fields of nursing and the health sciences.  She has written extensively in the field of qualitative methodology, was instrumental in the conceptualization and building of the International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (based at the University of Alberta), is the founding editor of Qualitative Health Research, and has been called the “driving force” behind a new web-based journal, The International Journal of Qualitative Methods.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Athabasca University

Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen

Mary Lou JepsenOn Saturday, June 14, 2008 an Honorary Doctor of Athabasca University will be conferred on Dr. Mary Lou Jepsen, Chief Technology Officer, and co-founder of One Laptop per Child, a non-profit company whose humanitarian mission is to deliver low-cost laptops en-masse to the disadvantaged children of developing countries.  Dr. Jepsen is a widely regarded expert in display systems – from computer encoding, to circuitry, drive schemes, light modulation, manufacturing and optics, and she is largely responsible for the ingenious design of the laptops to be distributed through the One Laptop per Child initiative.

 

2007 Recipients

The Honorary Doctor of Athabasca University

Professor Mandla Makhanya

Professor Mandla MakhanyaOn Thursday, June 7, 2007 an Honorary Doctor of Athabasca University will be conferred on Professor Mandla Makhanya, Executive Dean, of the College of Human Sciences, at the University of South Africa (UNISA). UNISA is the largest university in South Africa, and one of the largest distance learning institutions in the world. Professor Makhanya, has had a tremendous impact on the organization, the structure and the goals of the University of South Africa and is recognized as a distinguished scholar in distance education and a significant personality in the post-secondary system not only in his own country but as an influential presence in Africa as a whole.

The Honorary Doctor of Laws

Mr. Johnsen Sewepagaham

Mr. Johnsen SewepagehamOn Friday, June 8, 2007 an Honorary Doctor of Laws will be conferred on Johnsen Sewepagham. Mr. Sewepagaham was elected as Chief of the Little Red River Cree Nation in North West Alberta in 1980 and served in that capacity for five consecutive four year terms. He distinguished himself as a respected leader of his people in the fields of education, public service, social services, health, and resource development. Mr. Sewepagaham is highly supportive of post-secondary learning and was instrumental in bringing post-secondary education to his community.

The Honorary Doctor of Science

Mr. Albert Karvonen

Mr. Albert KarvonenOn Saturday, June 9, 2007 An Honorary Doctor of Science will be conferred on Mr. Albert Karvonen. Mr. Karvonen is a local film-maker who has created numerous productions exhibiting the wildlife of Canada for audiences at both the national and international levels. A successful career in teaching where he became a teacher and principal in Edmonton's inner city schools lead to Mr. Karvonen earning his Master's degree in education. Mr. Karvonen decided next to turn his attention to his love of wildlife, and Mr. Karvonen started Karvonen Films Ltd. in a small cottage on an acreage in Edmonton's outskirts. Under his astute management this company has experienced considerable growth over the years, and Mr. Karvonen has earned national and international acclaim as a respected wildlife filmmaker.

 

2006 Recipients

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters

Ms. Marie Smallface-Marule

Ms. Marie Smallface-MaruleIn recognition of her outstanding service to aboriginal community development and education

Ms. Smallface-Marule is one of the outstanding educators in Alberta and has dedicated her career to native education and native community development. Currently, she is president of Red Crow Community College and was the founder and president of the First Nations Higher Education Commission of Alberta. Ms. Smallface-Marule was the recipient of the 1995 National Aboriginal Achievement Award and was most recently honored with the Queen's Medal for outstanding community and educational service.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science

Dr. Marc GarneauDr. Marc Garneau

In recognition of his service to Canadian space exploration, engineering and his contributions to science, engineering and medicine.

Dr. Garneau was Canada's first astronaut. A veteran of three space flights (STS-41G in 1984, STS-7 in 1996 and STS-97 in 2000), he has logged over 677 space hours. In 2001, he was appointed President of the Canadian Space Agency. Dr. Garneau was honoured with the Companion of the Order of Canada in 2003, having been appointed as an Officer in 1984. His outstanding contributions to science, engineering and medicine are well known.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws

Mr. Peter Homulos

Mr. Peter HomulosIn recognition of his work in digital environments, enabling communities to preserve and to develop their social, cultural and economic aspirations.

Mr. Homulos ensured early Canadian leadership in the use of digital environments to extend Canadian culture. He was responsible for the creation of the Canadian Heritage Information Network, and for the conceptualization of Canadian Digital Content Initiative both of which ensure that Canadian cultural content is available online for the benefit of all Canadians. For almost 30 years, he has led the exploration of the new technologies, adapting and developing digitalization in the Canadian arena and has been a key player in connecting cultural institutions. Mr. Homulos has a strong conviction that information and communication technologies play positive roles in enabling communities to preserve and to develop their social, cultural and economic aspirations.

2005 Recipients

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters

Mrs. Gwendolyn Hooks

Mrs. Gwen HooksIn recognition of her contribution to the history of black settlers in Alberta and her promotion of learning

Gwen Hooks was born in Alberta in 1920 and is the daughter of black pioneer immigrant parents. She taught school in the County of Leduc, specializing in the teaching of children with special needs and becoming principal for special needs education in 1966, a post she held for a decade. She began her teaching career with a teacher’s certificate and worked hard to upgrade her qualification to a Bachelor of Education degree, which she earned from the University of Alberta in 1975, the same year that her youngest son graduated.

Mrs. Hooks has been recognized for her contributions to teaching, and she has won prizes for her poetry — she has published two volumes of poems. Yet, it’s for her work on the history of black settlers that she is to be recognized by Athabasca University. She wrote The Keystone Legacy: Recollections of a Black Settler in 1997, a book inspired by her late husband, Mark. The book captures the struggles and triumphs of the early settlers of Breton, Alberta, which was known as keystone at the beginning of the 20th century. In 1979, Mrs. Hooks was elected president of her local Breton and District Historical Society. The organization has earned national and international attention for its work, which includes the restoration of the Keystone Cemetery, where many of the early settlers are buried.

With her motto “It’s never too late to learn,” Mrs. Gwendolyn Hooks is a worthy recipient of the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Athabasca University

Mr. Frank Pierpoint Appleby

Mr. Frank ApplebyIn recognition of his service to Athabasca University, his commitment to education, and his community advocacy and development in Alberta

After a distinguished career in teaching and military service, Frank Appleby entered politics and served as MLA for the Athabasca constituency from 1971 to 1986. As part of the Peter Lougheed team, he rose to the position of Deputy Speaker, where he carried major responsibilities for the functioning of the Alberta Legislature, and was responsible for member services and a staff of 31 persons. He held this position for seven years.

Mr. Appleby has contributed to a range of community achievements. For example, he was instrumental in creating the College of Alberta Professional Foresters (CAPF), and each year CAPF gives an award in Appleby's name to a professional forester who has made exemplary contributions to the organization.

He also has a passion for lifelong learning. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of General Studies degree from Athabasca University. He has taken courses at Balliol College, Oxford; Banff Centre; University of Saskatchewan; University of British Columbia; University of Toronto; and Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. He is not only an advocate of lifelong learning, but clearly he is also a practitioner.

For the Athabasca University community, Mr. Appleby was a central figure in securing the future of the University within the Town of Athabasca. He worked hard to secure a permanent home for Athabasca University in the town with the same name. Though not alone in the campaign to “bring the University to its home,” he was a pivotal figure in this effort. While it was a controversial move at the time, there can be no doubt that the University and the community have both prospered since relocation was completed in 1985. Mr. Appleby saw his commitment to the University through by serving on its Governing Council for two full terms.

For his community service and most especially for his service to Athabasca University, Mr. Frank Appleby is a fitting recipient of the honorary degree Doctor of Athabasca University.

2004 Recipients

Dr. Tony Bates

Dr. Tony BatesDr. Bates is a veteran in the field of distance and open learning. As a prolific author, conference speaker, consultant, and a leading internationally recognized researcher, he has contributed both directly and indirectly to the mission of Athabasca University, and to the quality of its courses and programs.

Dr. Bates worked for 20 years at the British Open University, where he was one of the founding members of the Department of Educational Media Research. He then spent five years as Executive Director, Research, Strategic Planning and Information Technology at the Open Learning Agency in British Columbia. He recently retired from University of British Columbia, where he served as Director of Distance Education and Technology, Continuing Studies.

Ms. Pamela Wallin

Ms. Pamela WallinThe career of Saskatchewan-born Wallin, one of Canada's most accomplished and respected broadcasters and journalists, has spanned nearly 30 years and several continents. Ms. Wallin held senior positions in print, radio, and television. She later became the first woman in Canadian network television history to be appointed Ottawa Bureau Chief, and subsequently anchored nightly network newscasts.

In 1995, Ms. Wallin founded an independent company through which she hosted and produced many current affairs and long-format interview programs for Canadian television. In 1998, she published her best-selling memoir Since You Asked. And in September 2001, she wrote Speaking of Success based on the perspectives of the many celebrated people she has interviewed over the years.

Ms. Wallin also served on the boards of numerous professional, educational and charitable organizations and has received many honors for her professional and community work, including 9 honorary doctorates.

Pamela Wallin was appointed Consul General to New York City on July 25, 2002, her first diplomatic posting.

2003 Recipients

Robert Stollery

Edmonton’s Robert Stollery, construction giant, philanthropist and Athabasca University 2003 honourary degree recipient, can’t emphasize enough the importance of life-long learning.

“In today’s world, anyone in a position to lead must count on continuing their education for as long as they are in the work force,” says Stollery. “It’s not an option – it’s a necessity.”

On June 13, the man whose generosity has improved the lives of residents of Edmonton and surrounding communities will attend Athabasca University’s Convocation ceremony for graduate students to accept an honourary Doctor of Laws. He says it is a privilege to be receiving an honourary degree from an institution devoted to breaking down barriers to higher learning.

“It certainly is a pleasure for anyone to hear they have been chosen to receive an Honourary Degree,” Stollery said, “and to receive this degree from Athabasca University – Canada’s No. 1 distance learning institution – is special, indeed.”

According to Athabasca University president Dr. Dominique Abrioux, the honour belongs to Athabasca University.

“It is a pleasure to be associated with someone whose personal mandate so parallels that of Athabasca University,” Abrioux said. “While Athabasca University works hard to improve individual lives through learning, Mr. Stollery has given so much of himself for the health, education and lives of his neighbours.”

As one of the leading forces behind the PCL Construction Group Ltd., Stollery was instrumental in making that firm the largest construction company in Canada. He is also generous with his time, energy, and resources, giving to an extensive list of worthy causes in Alberta and Canada. Many of the organizations to which Mr. Stollery has contributed his time and talents have honoured him by bearing his name, such as the Stollery Children's Hospital, the Stollery Centre of the University of Alberta, and the Stollery Women's Pavilion at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Vicki Gabereau

Vicki Gabereau will be among old friends and neighbours when she attends Athabasca University’s undergraduate Convocation ceremony, June 14, to accept an honourary Doctor of Letters.

The sassy host of CTV’s Vicki Gabereau has a long history with the Town of Athabasca, including serving as an ambassador for the Athabasca Heritage Society, a role that led to her to being a participant in the town’s Trans Canada Trail Relay in March 19, 2000.

In her years as Canada’s venerated “Queen of Gab,” Gabereau has made fast friends of all Canadians, introducing them to over 15,000 of the world’s most colourful, accomplished and celebrated personalities.

Gabereau’s own life fits the profile of those she has interviewed in her long career with CBC Radio, and since 1997 with her show, Vicki Gabereau, on CTV.

She is a recipient of the Jack Award, named for its first recipient, Jack McClelland. The award honours individuals within the Canadian publishing industry or media, who have significantly contributed to the promotion of Canadian authors and books. She is also a several-times Leo Award winner and Gemini nominee, and has published two books – an autobiography and a recipe collection called “Cooking without Looking.”

Gabereau is an active participant in the community, too, serving on the board of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Hnatyshyn Foundation.

“Ms. Gabereau is entwined in Canadian culture and consciousness,” says Athabasca University president, Dominique Abrioux. "Athabasca University is delighted she has agreed to lend her warmth, wit and grace to one of the most important days of our year."

2002 Recipients

Dr. James Shapiro

An honorary Doctor of Science degree was awarded to Dr. James Shapiro during the Graduate Students Convocation Ceremony on Friday, June 7, 2002.

Dr. Shapiro is Director of the Clinical Islet Transplant Program at the University of Alberta. His work has been instrumental in developing the Edmonton protocol, which gives hope to millions of people suffering from diabetes. In 2000, the Globe and Mail wrote, "Researchers at the U of A have successfully reversed diabetes for more than a year in a small group of Canadians who once required daily insulin injections to survive. Those researchers led by surgeon James Shapiro, are now being hailed as world leaders in islet transplantation."

Dr. Joseph Schwarcz

An honorary Doctor of Science degree was awarded to Dr. Joseph Schwarcz of McGill University during the Undergraduate Convocation Ceremony on Saturday, June 8, 2002.

Dr. Schwarcz is one of the foremost science educators in Canada. His many television, radio, and public appearances have entertained and informed people across North America. As Director of the Office for Chemistry and Society at McGill University, he uses the news media to bridge the gap between serious science and a public that needs to be informed of its importance and impact.

Updated February 25 2014 by Web Services - Advancement

AU, CANADA'S OPEN UNIVERSITY, is an internationally recognized leader in online and distance learning. © Athabasca University