Dalhousie's honorary degree recipients

- May 12, 2009

Dalhousie University will award honorary degrees to eight accomplished individuals during spring convocation, May 19 to 27. Recipients range from a theoretical computer scientist to a “disability guru,” and each is a shining example of community involvement and academic excellence.

The following individuals will receive a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, this year:

Robert Anderson

Robert Anderson (on Friday, May 22, 9:30 a.m. Convocation for Dentistry & Medicine.) As a teacher, physician and academic, Robert Norman Anderson is legendary for his people-centred philosophy of health care. His approach has inspired generations of students through Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine, and made him a cornerstone of the medical school’s program for 36 years. A Maritimer through and through, Dr. Anderson was born and raised in St. Peter’s Bay, Prince Edward Island. He earned his medical degree from Dalhousie in 1954. While technological advances changed the dynamic of patient care, Dr. Anderson remained passionately committed to the doctor-patient relationship and inspired the residents under his direction to do the same. Although he is now retired, Dr. Anderson remains busy. He works with St. Andrew’s United Church and the Canadian Cardiovascular Society and is exploring his love of the humanities by taking classes at Dalhousie and the University of King’s College. 

Jesse Ausubel
Jesse Ausubel (on Wednesday, May 20, 2:30 p.m. Convocation for Science I.) One of the world’s leading authorities on climate change, Jesse Ausubel has been working tirelessly to bring attention to the global environmental crisis we face today. Mr. Ausubel, a Harvard and Columbia educated scholar, is the director of the Human Environment program at Rockefeller University and has been program director for the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation since 1994. Mr. Ausubel’s expertise in environmental science and technology led to his participation in historic developments surrounding the environment. He was one of the organizers of the first UN World Climate Conference in Geneva in 1979, where climate change was identified as an urgent global problem. He is also involved in establishing the Census for Marine Life, an international program that will record all known life in the oceans by 2010. Mr. Ausubel’s work has crossed into the virtual world too, with his online creation, “Encyclopedia of Life,” cataloging information about virtually all life on earth.
Daniel Eisenhauer
D. Andrew Eisenhauer (on Wednesday, May 27, 2:30 p.m. Convocation for Engineering.) A co-founder and partner of the ABCO Group of Companies, D. Andrew Eisenhauer knows small and medium-sized companies are the backbone of many Canadian communities. After completing studies at Dalhousie in 1945, he started his career as a mechanical engineer in London, Ont. He stayed only two years, returning to Lunenburg to co-found Atlantic Bridge Company Limited, which would become ABCO Group of Companies. Mr. Eisenhauer and his company initially focused on shipbuilding, maintenance and repair, but through pioneering work in new product development ABCO became the main design and fabrication facilities in the region. A strong believer in the importance of community, Mr. Eisenhauer supported the local Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, served as the chair of the Lunenburg School Board and was instrumental in rebuilding the historic St. John’s Anglican Church in Lunenburg after it was destroyed by fire in 2001. Mr. Eisenhauer continues to live on Second Peninsula, Lunenburg County, in the heart of the community he helped build and sustain for almost six decades.
Catherine Frazee
Catherine Frazee (on Friday, May 22, 2:30 p.m. Convocation for Law.) A poet, scholar and “disability guru,” Catherine Frazee has spent her entire career exposing barriers to equality for disabled persons. A professor of distinction and co-director of the Institute for Disability Studies at Ryerson University, she has developed many original courses and worked as a mediator and advisor for an extensive list of clients. Ms. Frazee also uses art to advance understanding of the rights and experiences of persons with disabilities. She is co-curator of the exhibition Out from Under: Disability, History and Things to Remember, which starts a national tour in 2010, and was one of the artists profiled in the 2006 National Film Board of Canada documentary, Shameless: The Art of Disability. Ms. Frazee’s artistic endeavors bring to life poignant stories about the lives of disabled people. Whether through lobbying for law reform, bringing injustices to light or serving as an advisor, consultant or mediator, Ms. Frazee champions understanding and change with unparalleled commitment.   
Don Gillis
Don Gillis (on Wednesday, May 27, 9:30 a.m. Convocation for Engineering). Don Gillis has dedicated his life to engineering research and education. For almost 40 years he has been encouraging students to find engineering solutions to real-world problems. From beach erosion, to heat-loss in buildings, to unsafe playgrounds, Mr. Gillis has made a lasting impact in the field and his students’ education. Mr. Gillis obtained his engineering degrees from what is now Dalhousie’s faculty of Engineering in the early 1960s and went on to begin his career as a structural engineer for Shawinigan Engineering in Montreal. Mr. Gillis found his true calling in 1968, returning to what would become the University of Prince Edward Island, to design and teach their first engineering program. Although Mr. Gillis has always remained dedicated to his students, has is also a gifted researcher. He designed and developed paraplegic devices to improve the quality of life of countless people and was among the first researchers concerned with creating safe playground equipment. Dalhousie will be honouring Mr. Gillis for his outstanding professional and community service and for engaging a generation of students in engineering.
Joan Glode
Joan Glode (on Monday, May 25, 9:30 a.m. Convocation for Health Professions I—BSC Nursing, DNPS, MN, BSW, MSW.) A champion of First Nations children and families in Canada, Ms. Glode has spent her life in service to her community. As executive director of Mi’kmaq Family and Children’s Services, Ms. Glode oversees support to all 13 Mi’Kmaq communities in Nova Scotia. Ms. Glode efforts are not limited to Nova Scotia though. Two years ago, she and Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to change the funding approach of First Nations Child and Family Service Agencies to reduce the number of children entering the child welfare system. In 1973, she became the first Mi’kmaq woman in Nova Scotia to receive a Master of Social Work degree and was instrumental in developing the undergraduate degree in social work offered to Mi’kmaq students. This year she became the recipient of a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for her public service and is a past winner of the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal. A role model and mentor, Joan Glode will be honoured for her tireless work on behalf of Aboriginal children and families and her unwavering support of the Dalhousie School of Social Work.
Gordon Nixon
Gordon M. Nixon (on Tuesday, May 26, 9:30 a.m. Convocation for Management I—BComm). As the Chief Executive Officer of RBC Financial Group, Gordon M. Nixon is one of Canada’s most accomplished CEOs. While other financial institutions are struggling in this economic downturn, RBC remains not only the most profitable bank in Canada, but one of the most successful in the world. Mr. Nixon believes an organization is only as good as the people who work for it, and his employees are committed to the RBC vision. Under his leadership, this year the bank was named one of the best places to work in a Globe and Mail survey and was honoured by the federal government for promoting diversity. Mr. Nixon has won several awards, including “Canada’s Outstanding CEO of the Year” in 2007. Despite the responsibilities of his position, Mr. Nixon continues to remain active in the community. He is chairman of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and serves on the board of directors of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. He also sits on several advisory boards, including that of his alma mater, Queen’s University School of Business.
Nicolas Pippenger
Nicolas Pippenger (on Wednesday, May 20, 9:30 a.m. Convocation for Architecture and Planning, Computer Science including Master of Health Informatics). Nicolas Pippenger knows computer science is more than just computers; it’s about our relationship to technology and the role it plays in our lives. One of the leading intellectuals of our age, his groundbreaking theories examine how best to deliver messages across computer networks. Dr. Pippenger, a graduate of Shimer College and MIT, is a Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College. His work in computer science is complemented by his impressive research record in mathematics. Dr. Pippenger’s skills in discrete mathematical analysis contributed to the emergence of an entirely new branch of study. Meanwhile, his work on quantum computing helped foster the field of study here in Canada. His accomplishments have earned Dr. Pippenger numerous accolades. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, all reflecting the outstanding reputation of his research contributions.

Dalhousie’s spring convocation ceremonies will be held in the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium at the Dalhousie Arts Centre, where more than 2,700 students will graduate.


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