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Introducing Dal's honorary degree recipients for Spring Convocation 2014

Nine degrees to be awarded

- April 16, 2014

Donghyuk Shin, Anne McGuire and Maureen Joanne Sabia are three of this year's honorary degree recipients at Spring Convocation. (Provided photos)
Donghyuk Shin, Anne McGuire and Maureen Joanne Sabia are three of this year's honorary degree recipients at Spring Convocation. (Provided photos)

At Spring Convocation this year, Dal will present honorary degrees to nine impressive leaders who have inspired action, shaped fields of study, refocused debates and changed the lives of people around the world.

Their ranks include the president and CEO of a vital health-care institution for the Atlantic Region; the inventor behind a revolutionary poultry device for East African farmers; and the only person known to have been born into North Korea's prison camps and escaped.

"It's an honour to recognize these nine outstanding individuals," says Dal President Richard Florizone. "I'm very excited to partake in my first spring convocation as Dal's president, celebrating not only the accomplishments of our honorary degree recipients but also our newest graduates.”

Convocation season kicks off on May 9 with the Faculty of Agriculture ceremony at the Langille Athletic Centre in Truro, then resumes from May 20 to 28 in Halifax with ceremonies at the Dalhousie Arts Centre's Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

For more information on Convocation, visit the Convocation website.

Friday May 9, afternoon

Solomon Demeke is a poultry scientist at Jimma University College of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in the southwest highlands of Ethiopia, and the developer of a low-input technology for brooding chickens called the hay-box brooder. Easy to construct, use and modify with locally available materials and skills, the brooder allows the mother hen to go back to laying and increases egg productivity. Professor Demeke’s invention been so successful at increasing the self-sufficiency of subsistence farmers in Ethiopia that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has funded its dissemination throughout East Africa. During the course of his four decades teaching at Jimma, his applied agricultural science research has resulted in 38 peer-reviewed and extension publications. Since 2008, he has been the local project director for three consecutive CIDA-funded international projects in collaboration with the former NSAC, now Dalhousie’s Faculty of Agriculture. Under his wise counsel and good-natured leadership, his Nova Scotian partners have acquired knowledge about agriculture in eastern Africa and enhanced their own first-hand understanding of international agriculture.

Tuesday May 20, morning

Donghyuk Shin has faced unimaginable adversity. Mr. Shin is the only person known to have been born into and escaped from a North Korean prison camp. The first 23 years of his life were spent in a world of forced labour, hunger and horrendous human rights abuses. Mr. Shin has become the foremost activist for human rights in North Korea during the nine years since his escape, and he is a winner of the UN Watch’s Moral Courage Award. His story, as told in Blaine Harden’s book Escape from Camp 14, has shifted the global discourse about North Korea, shining a light on the human rights abuses so prevalent within the regime. At Dalhousie, he inspired students who, after reading about his experiences, held a peace march and launched a social media campaign to raise awareness of human rights violations in North Korea. They then fundraised to bring Mr. Shin to Halifax, where his speech to an over-capacity crowd last year drew international attention. Mr. Shin continues his fight for his people, inspiring students, activists, leaders and citizens around the globe through his NGO "Inside NK."  

Wednesday May 21, morning

Barton Myers studied architecture at Cambridge University and the University of Pennsylvania before immigrating to Canada in 1968 to join the faculty at the University of Toronto. He established his own practice in Toronto as co-founder and principal in the firm Diamond and Myers, and went on to form Barton Myers Associates in 1975. In 1984, he opened an office in Los Angeles that is now the firm’s base. He has served as a  professor at UCLA, the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania, and has been a visiting professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Mr. Myers is also widely recognized as one of the greatest theatre architects of his generation. Among his notable residential and public projects is Toronto’s Wolf House, for which he received the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada’s Prix du XXe Siecle Award for enduring excellence of nationally significant architecture. He has earned many awards and honours for outstanding architectural design, including the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada Gold Medal and the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Chapter Gold Medal.

Wednesday May 21, afternoon

David W. Simpson has been described as the “epitome of a scientist whose skills serve global society” and a mentor who has motivated and supported new generations of scientists. Dr. Simpson completed his bachelor and master’s degrees in Physics at Dalhousie before completing his PhD in Geophysics at the Australian National University. He spent almost 20 years at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, where he was Senior Research Scientist and Associate Director for Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics. In 1991, he became president of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of universities and affiliates that is the world’s leading source of seismological data. As a seismologist, Dr. Simpson has targeted the problem of earthquake prediction and has had a significant impact on studies monitoring seismic events worldwide and discriminating between earthquakes and nuclear explosions. He has served in an advisory role to numerous government agencies, is the author of more than 60 papers in scientific journals and books, and his accomplishments have been recognized with awards including the Waldo E. Smith Medal of the American Geophysical Union.

Friday May 23, morning

Eldon R. Smith has dedicated his life to improving the heart health of Canadians and is one of Canada’s pre-eminent academic cardiologists, earning widespread recognition for his research into hypertension and cardiac failure. Born and educated in Nova Scotia, Dr. Smith received his medical degree cum laude from Dalhousie in 1967, then joining the Faculty of Medicine in 1973. In 1980, he moved to Calgary, where he has spent the balance of his career at the University of Calgary, eventually serving as Dean of Medicine and helping shape cardiovascular care in southern Alberta. From 1997 to 2010, he was editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. In 2006, Dr. Smith took a lead role in defining the direction of Canada’s cardiovascular care when he was appointed to chair the steering committee for a national task force on heart health. Over the course of his career, Dr. Smith has published more than 250 papers and book chapters and has received numerous honours and awards, including being named an Officer of the Order of Canada and receiving the Graham Medal from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Friday May 23, early afternoon

John Joseph Borrows is Canada’s pre-eminent scholar of Indigenous and Aboriginal law. He is a rigorous and demanding academic, whose groundbreaking and original work is recognized internationally. A member of the Cape Croker First Nation on Bruce Peninsula in northwestern Ontario, Dr. Borrows is Anishinaabe. One of the first Aboriginal scholars in Canada to receive a PhD in law, his award-winning publications include Recovering Canada: The Resurgence of Indigenous Law and Canada’s Indigenous Constitution. Another, Aboriginal Law: Cases and Materials, co-edited with Len Rotman, is celebrated as the foundational teaching text on the subject in Canada. Dr. Borrows is a recipient of the Aboriginal Achievement Award in Law and Justice, a Fellow of the Trudeau Foundation and currently holds the Robina Chair in Law, Public Policy and Society at the University of Minnesota.

Monday May 26, morning

Anne McGuire is the president and CEO of the IWK Health Centre, the largest pediatric university teaching facility in Atlantic Canada. Ms. McGuire has dedicated her 45-year career to ensuring that when children, adolescents, adults and families are in need, they will be provided with care that is compassionate, evidence-based and of exceptional quality. She began her career as a mental health nurse before completing her master’s in Health Administration at Dalhousie. She is the former Vice President – Health, Dartmouth & Southeastern Communities for the Capital District Health Authority and former CEO of the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority. She is a Certified Health Executive of the Canadian College of Health Leaders, and has served as board chair or member for many regional and national health organizations. She also chairs the PAC of Dal's School of Health Administration. Ms. McGuire has been named one of Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEOs for five consecutive years, and was inducted into Atlantic Business Magazine’s Hall of Fame in 2011.

Tuesday May 27, morning

Maureen Joanne Sabia was appointed Chairman of the Board of Canadian Tire Corporation Limited in 2007, becoming one of just a handful of women to hold such a position at a major Canadian public company. Ms. Sabia studied law at the University of Toronto, one of only three women in a class of some 300. After being called to the Bar of the Province of Ontario, she worked with the Ontario Securities Commission, the Ontario Law Reform Commission and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System, as well as Canadian Pacific Limited and Redpath Industries. Since 1986, Ms. Sabia has been the principal of her own consulting practice, assisting businesses with organizational and strategy issues. She has been a director on a number of corporate and university boards and today serves as Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada Departmental Audit Committee. She is the co-author, with James L. Goodfellow, of the country’s most respected book on improving the effectiveness of audit committees. In 2009, Ms. Sabia was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network and in 2011 she was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Wednesday May 28, morning

Carroll Oliver Brawner is known and respected worldwide for his contributions to open-pit mining and geotechnical engineering, and is an authority on the design, construction and maintenance of stable tailings dams. A Nova Scotia Technical College grad (now part of Dalhousie), he worked on major Trans-Canada Highway expansions for British Columbia’s Department of Highways before joining geotechnical consulting firm Golder Associates. Today, the company has over 8,000 employees in some 180 offices around the world, thanks in large part to Mr. Brawner’s early contributions. In 1978, at the height of his engineering career, Mr. Brawner was appointed Professor of Mining Engineering in the University of British Columbia’s Department of Mineral Engineering, where he’s inspired hundreds of students, published dozens of published technical papers and delivered lectures at more than 90 universities and institutes. His contributions to his profession have been recognized by many awards from North American engineering and mining organizations and in 2008 he was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame.


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