Introducing Dal's honorary degree recipients for Spring Convocation 2015

Ceremonies take place May 8 and May 25-30

- April 15, 2015

Four of Dal's 10 honorary doctorate recipients for Spring Convocation 2015: Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. John H. Noseworthy, Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Kevin G. Lynch.
Four of Dal's 10 honorary doctorate recipients for Spring Convocation 2015: Dr. Temple Grandin, Dr. John H. Noseworthy, Sheila Watt-Cloutier and Kevin G. Lynch.

Dalhousie’s Class of 2015 will not only feature more than 3,000 impressive new graduates. Among its ranks will be renowned activists, distinguished scholars, world-leading scientists and doctors, community builders and leaders — the 10 outstanding individuals selected to receive honorary degrees from Dalhousie this May.

Spring Convocation ceremonies kick off on Friday, May 8 when graduates of the Faculties of Agriculture and Graduate Studies on the Agricultural Campus will be celebrated at the Langille Athletic Centre. Ceremonies then resume on Monday, May 25 in Halifax at the Dalhousie Arts Centre’s Rebecca Cohn Auditorium and run through Saturday, May 30.

For more information: Convocation website

At nine of the 16 total ceremonies during that period, 10 individuals will be conferred with their Doctors of Laws, honoris causa, from Dalhousie, recognizing their lifetimes of achievement. They are (in order of the presentation of their degrees):

•    Dr. Temple Grandin, animal welfare scientist, renowned autism activist
•    Tom M. Mitchell, Cognitive neuroscientist, machine learning expert
•    Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, champion of African history and culture
•    Kevin G. Lynch, vice-chair, BMO Financial Group; economic thought leader
•    Ian McAllister, international humanitarian, prolific author
•    R. James Williams, Supreme court justice, defender of children’s rights
•    Dr. John H. Noseworthy, president and CEO, the Mayo Clinic
•    Dr. G. Ross Langley, clinician, cancer expert, medical advisor
•    Sheila Watt-Cloutier, advocate for human rights of indigenous people
•    Richard Alexander Murray, Global community builder, philanthropist

In addition to the 10 honorary degree recipients, Dalhousie’s new chancellor, The Honourable A. Anne McLellan, will be formally installed on Monday, May 25 at the 12:30 p.m. ceremony in the Rebecca Cohn. (Read about incoming Chancellor McClellan in our February profile story.)

Learn more about each of the honorary degree recipients below.

Dr. Temple Grandin

Animal welfare scientist, renowned autism activist

Friday, May 8 (2 p.m. ceremony)

Dr. Temple Grandin is almost certainly both the world’s most famous animal scientist and the world’s most recognized person with autism. She turned the childhood pain of being different into a life of profound purpose, using her unique perspective to change the face of animal welfare and give hope and inspiration to millions of people and families living with autism spectrum diagnoses. In 2010, Dr. Grandin was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World” in the Heroes category.

In 1970, Temple Grandin received a BA at Franklin Pierce College. In 1975, with her work on the behaviour of cattle in squeeze chutes, she earned her MSc in Animal Science at Arizona State University. In 1989, she was awarded a PhD from the University of Illinois. Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment she designed. Dr. Grandin is also deeply dedicated to improving the lives of people with autism. Her belief that being a person with autism is a gift and not a liability has changed the way we think about what she calls the “specialist mind” and the promise it offers a rapidly changing world.

Dr. Grandin has published extensively on both autism and animal welfare. Her list of over 70 awards includes the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute and honorary doctorates from several universities. In 2010, HBO released a multi-award-winning TV movie about her life. Today, Dr. Grandin is Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University and enjoys a thriving business as a consultant.

Tom M. Mitchell

Cognitive neuroscientist, machine learning expert

Monday, May 25 (9 a.m. ceremony)

It’s safe to say that if computer scientists had fan clubs, the membership in Tom Mitchell’s would be substantial. His research is the leading edge of disruptive technologies that will change how we interact with the web and with our mobile devices.

Dr. Mitchell has a Bachelor of Science from MIT and a PhD from Stanford University. In 1986, he joined Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh as a professor, and in 1999 became the E. Fredkin Professor in the School of Computer Science. In 2006, Dr. Mitchell founded the Machine Learning Department within the School of Computer Science – the first and only such department in the world – and was appointed Chair, a position he holds today. His key areas of research involve using brain imaging to understand human language processing, and leading the team that created and runs the Never-Ending Language Learner, or NELL, the first computer system to simulate human learning.

In addition to being one of the world’s most influential computer scientists, Dr. Mitchell is a member of the United States National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. He is or has been on the advisory boards of seven leading journals in artificial intelligence and cognitive science. In 1997, Tom Mitchell published the book Machine Learning, the standard reference on the topic for generations of graduate students. Dalhousie is very proud to be the first university to bestow an honorary degree on Dr. Tom M. Mitchell.

Paul Tiyambe Zeleza

Champion of African history and culture

Monday, May 25 (4 p.m. ceremony)

Paul Tiyambe Zeleza is a respected teacher, writer and speaker on African history and culture. A distinguished academic, a prolific author and an in-demand speaker, Dr. Zeleza has championed the continent of his birth for more than three decades.

Dr. Zeleza graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Malawi and subsequently earned a master’s degree at the University of London. He then became one of the first graduates of Dalhousie’s PhD program in African history, in 1982. His academic career includes teaching roles in Jamaica, Kenya, South Africa, Canada and the U.S. He has also been a senior administrator at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola Marymount University. Currently, he is Vice-President of Academic Affairs at Quinnipiac University.

Dr. Zeleza is the author or editor of 26 books, as well as hundreds of book reviews, essays and scholarly articles. He has twice won Africa’s top book prize, the Noma Award. He has written about both the African continent and life for the diaspora of African-born people living elsewhere in the world, covering topics ranging from economics to human rights to technology. Dr. Zeleza has also made a powerful impact in the digital world with his blog, the Zeleza Post. As a speaker, Dr. Zeleza has travelled to more than 30 countries to deliver keynote speeches and lectures, and is frequently sought out by media for his perspective on Africa and the African diaspora. In 2013, the Carnegie Corporation named Dr. Zeleza one of the 43 “great immigrants” who have made essential contributions to American life.

Kevin G. Lynch

Vice-chair, BMO Financial Group, economic thought leader

Tuesday, May 26 (9 a.m. ceremony)

With his leadership in public, private and university sector roles, Kevin Lynch has established himself as one of Canada’s premier economic thinkers. His ideas have contributed to the nation’s economic prosperity and influenced financial decision-makers across the world. Dr. Lynch is currently Vice-Chair of BMO Financial Group, where he advises the company on global strategy. He is also Chancellor of the University of King’s College and Chair of the Board of Governors at the University of Waterloo. To each of these positions he brings insight from his successful years of service in government.

Dr. Lynch has been a senior leader for several federal governments. He has served as Deputy Minister of Industry and Deputy Minister of Finance. His investment in the knowledge economy has helped make Canada the top G-8 country in funding for university research. He was a key contributor to five consecutive budget surpluses, and his work has made Canadian businesses more competitive internationally. Appointed as Clerk of the Privy Council, Secretary to the Cabinet and Head of the Public Service in 2006, he launched Public Service Renewal, a major revitalization of the nation’s public service sector.

Dr. Lynch’s international experience includes executive positions at the International Monetary Fund and the Institute for International Finance. He is equally committed to boosting the economy of Atlantic Canada. He has co-chaired 4Front Atlantic, a conference of the region’s most influential business leaders, and inspired Dalhousie’s Faculty of Management to identify Promoting Regional Prosperity as one of its strategic pillars. He regularly shares his ideas and insights through media op-eds and speaking engagements.

Ian McAllister

International humanitarian, prolific author

Wednesday, May 27 (12:30 p.m. ceremony)

Ian McAllister is an economic, educational and humanitarian leader. As a government economist, an advisor for the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Societies and a professor of economics at Dalhousie, Mr. McAllister has sought to make life better for those less fortunate. He is one of the world’s top experts in disaster relief and international development assistance.

Mr. McAllister has served in several economic development capacities with provincial and federal governments. Among these was a stint as leader of the Regional Development unit of the federal Department of Finance. While teaching at Dalhousie, he served as Director of the Institute for Research on Public Policy’s regional development program. Expanding his influence beyond Canada’s borders, Mr. McAllister led development initiatives in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Pakistan, Nepal and other nations, funded by organizations like the Canadian International Development Agency and the World Bank. While on leave from Dalhousie, he served as Senior Development Advisor of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Federation.

Mr. McAllister has published five books on issues related to disaster relief and international aid and development. He has also co-authored another book, edited six more and is in the process of publishing another. Mr. McAllister has also been an innovator in the academic sphere. In 1983, he founded Dalhousie’s Master of Development Economics program, which has graduated more than 200 students from over 50 countries. He has taken on various administrative roles with Dal’s Department of Economics and, despite retiring in 2002, continues to teach and supervise students each year.

The Honourable R. James Williams

Supreme Court justice, defender of children’s rights

Thursday, May 28 (12:30 p.m. ceremony)

The Honourable R. James “Jim” Williams is an influential justice, legal educator and child’s rights advocate. As a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia’s Family Law Division and an Associate Director of the National Judicial Institute, he has served as one of the principle architects of family law education in Canada during his distinguished career.

Justice Williams’ unique combination of judicial acumen and humanitarian compassion stems in part from his diverse education. Before graduating from Dalhousie’s law school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Alberta and a master’s degree from the Maritime School of Social Work. This educational background allowed Justice Williams to focus on the needs of people, particularly children, in the cases he adjudicates. He has authored influential decisions, introduced widely adopted legal innovations and collaborated with organizations outside the legal system to better serve family law.

Justice Williams has also excelled in educating fellow justices and others in the legal profession. He led the development of the National Judicial Institute’s Family Law Program for judges and has lectured on matters of family law at Dalhousie, the University of Alberta, the University of Hong Kong and the University of Australia. He has served as Host Chair for the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights and delivered speeches to the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts and the Canadian Bar Association. From the bench to the lectern, Justice Williams has made a significant imprint on family law in Canada.

Dr. John H. Noseworthy

President and CEO, the Mayo Clinic

Friday, May 29 (9 a.m. ceremony)

Dr. John Noseworthy is a neurologist, researcher, international authority on multiple sclerosis and holder of one of the most prestigious health care positions in the world. He has been President and Chief Executive Officer of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, a not-for-profit medical organization operating in six states, since 2009. More than a million people from 150 countries come to Mayo for care each year. During his time as CEO, Dr. Noseworthy and his team have confirmed Mayo Clinic’s standing as a trusted resource for patients and their families, and extended Mayo’s mission to include new ways of reaching patients and sharing expertise. He remains a Professor of Neurology in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Dr. Noseworthy has improved the lives of countless people through his multiple sclerosis research; is the author of more than 150 research papers, chapters, and editorials; has written several books; and served as editor-in-chief for Neurology, the official journal of the American Academy of Neurology. In 2005, Dr. Noseworthy received the Alumnus of the Year award from the Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association and in 2012 was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Western University. He is also a Health Governor of the World Economic Forum.

Born in Massachusetts, Dr. Noseworthy earned both his undergraduate and medical degrees from Dalhousie, graduating in 1971 with his MD. He went on to residencies at Dalhousie and the University of Western Ontario, and neurology fellowships with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined Mayo Clinic in 1990.

Dr. G. Ross Langley

Clinician, cancer expert, medical advisor

Friday, May 29 (9 a.m. ceremony)

Dr. G. Ross Langley is a clinician, cancer expert, teacher, administrator and advisor to governments and institutions. He has travelled to every medical school in the country on behalf of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, working to improve specialty medical education. As a hematologist, Dr. Langley contributed extensively to the cancer field, caring for patients, authoring dozens of publications, and conducting research. His contributions to Dalhousie, Atlantic Canada’s medical school, have immeasurably advanced the medical profession throughout the Atlantic provinces and Canada.

Dr. Langley has also had a tremendous influence on the compassionate care of patients. Perhaps most touching was his dedication to patient Robert Pope, a young Nova Scotia artist. After Mr. Pope’s death from Hodgkin’s Disease, Dr. Langley helped his parents create the Robert Pope Foundation and served as a director and advisor for 20 years.

Ross Langley grew up in Sydney, Cape Breton, and graduated from Mount Allison University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1952 and from Dalhousie Medical School in 1957. He trained in hematology research before joining the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine as a Professor in 1968. He went on to become Chief of Medicine at Camp Hill Hospital, and Head of the Departments of Medicine at Dalhousie University and the Victoria General Hospital. Dalhousie’s Department of Medicine has bestowed on him the Merit Award, and Lifetime Achievement Awards in Medical Education and Research. In 2002, he was named Medical Alumnus of the Year by the Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association, and was appointed Emeritus Professor of Medicine. He is a recipient of both the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier

Advocate for human rights of Indigenous People

Friday, May 29 (12:30 p.m. ceremony)

Born in Kuujjuaq, Nunavik, in northern Quebec, Sheila Watt-Cloutier has been a political representative for Inuit around the world. She was elected President of the Inuit Circumpolar Council (ICC) Canada in 1995 and re-elected in 1998, and played a critical role as spokesperson for a coalition of northern Indigenous Peoples in the negotiations leading to the 2001 Stockholm Convention banning the generation and use of persistent organic pollutants contaminating the Arctic food web. In 2002, Ms. Watt-Cloutier was elected International Chair of the ICC.

Ms. Watt-Cloutier’s groundbreaking 2005 petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights focused on the violation of Inuit human rights resulting from climate change. She testified before the Commission during the first-ever hearing on the links between climate change, human life and human rights. Sheila Watt-Cloutier has been recognized worldwide for her work in shaping research and policy that considers the impacts of climate change within a human rights framework. Her list of awards and honours includes the U.N.’s Mahbub ul Haq Human Development Award, a Nobel Peace Prize nomination and 16 honorary degrees. She was made an Officer in the Order of Canada in 2006 and appeared on a Canadian stamp in 2012.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier lives in Iqaluit, Nunavut. She stays connected to her passion for social and environmental justice through activism and advocacy work. Her book The Right to be Cold was published in 2013, and weaves historical traumas and current issues such as climate change, leadership and sustainability in the Arctic into her personal story.

Richard Alexander Murray

Global community builder, philanthropist

Saturday, May 30 (9 a.m. ceremony)

Richard Alexander Murray’s relationship with Dalhousie goes back 50 years. He earned a Diploma in Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering in the mid-1960s from what was then called the Nova Scotia Technical College, and is now Dalhousie’s Faculty of Engineering. He has gone on to become an outstanding engineer, industry leader, mentor to young engineers, successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Early in his career, Mr. Murray spent 11 years as a civil engineer in Jamaica, returning to Canada in the 1970s to build the company we know today as R.A. Murray International Limited, an award-winning firm based in Halifax that provides engineering, general contracting, material procurement, and logistical services all over the world. R.A. Murray International specializes in the design, building and financing of highway bridges; and the sale and transport of construction aggregates. One of Mr. Murray’s most impressive accomplishments was his work for the Jamaica Bridges Development Program from 2007 to 2011. His company designed and built 17 bridges plus connector roads across Jamaica. They also strengthened local communities -- reconstructing schools, repairing police stations, supporting local employees and their families to further their education, and donating to charities.

In keeping with his philosophy of giving back, Mr. Murray and his wife Melda endowed a $1-million scholarship fund in 2012. The Richard and Melda Murray Scholarships bring Jamaican students to study engineering at Dalhousie. The Murrays’ hope is to train a new generation of engineers who will build the future of Jamaica.


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