Introducing Dal's honorary degree recipients for Spring Convocation 2018

- April 19, 2018

Spring 2018 honorary degree recipients. Top row, left to right: Dr. Thomas J. Marrie, Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Dr. Jack D. Gerrow, S. I. Rustum Southwell. Bottom row, left to right: Lynn Clark Irving, Dr. Robert H. Frank, Dr. Peter William O’Hearn, Dr. John Ralston Saul. (Provided photos)
Spring 2018 honorary degree recipients. Top row, left to right: Dr. Thomas J. Marrie, Dr. Cindy Blackstock, Dr. Jack D. Gerrow, S. I. Rustum Southwell. Bottom row, left to right: Lynn Clark Irving, Dr. Robert H. Frank, Dr. Peter William O’Hearn, Dr. John Ralston Saul. (Provided photos)

Dalhousie's thousands of new graduates this spring — the class of Dal's 200th anniversary year — will be joined by eight outstanding individuals whose achievements are being recognized with an honorary degree.

Honorary degrees recognize people who've demonstrated inspirational leadership in, or in service to, society, outstanding contribution to a field or discipline, and/or outstanding contributions to the university.

Honorary degree presentations will take place at eight of the 16 convocation ceremonies at Dalhousie this spring. Convocation begins on Friday, May 11 with the ceremony for graduates of the Faculties of Agriculture and Graduate Studies on the Agricultural Campus. Ceremonies then resume in Halifax on Monday, May 28 and run through Saturday, June 2.

For more information, visit the Convocation website.

Dr. Thomas J. Marrie

Accomplished physician, researcher and university leader
Monday, May 28 – 9 a.m. ceremony

From humble beginnings as a family physician in his home province of Newfoundland, Dr. Thomas J. Marrie has crafted a truly illustrious career as a medical researcher, teacher, administrator and clinician. A graduate of Memorial University and Dalhousie Medical School, Dr. Marrie spent more than two decades at Dalhousie, becoming Professor of Medicine and founding the Division of Infectious Diseases before leaving for the University of Alberta in 2004 to serve as Dean of Medicine and Dentistry. He returned to Dal in 2009 to become the university’s 12th Dean of Medicine, and during his tenure (which ran until 2015) his leadership secured the integrity of the medical school and revised its curriculum to a leading standard in North America. Dr. Marrie coordinated the opening of Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick in Saint John and was instrumental in establishing the J.D. Irving Ltd. Chair in Occupational Medicine.

Dr. Marrie has served as Chair of the Canadian Residency Matching Service and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and as president of the Canadian Association of Professors of Medicine, the Canadian Infectious Disease Society, and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. A Member of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, he has been recognized with a Master Clinician Lecturer Award from the Department of Medicine at Dalhousie and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases of Canada, among dozens of other awards. He received an honorary doctorate in 2003 from the University of Mediterranean in Marseille, France.

Dr. Cindy Blackstock

A global force in child protection and Indigenous children’s rights
Monday, May 28 – 12:30 p.m. ceremony

Cindy Blackstock has made an unparalleled contribution to the advancement of human rights for Indigenous children and families in Canada. She is best known as the driving force behind a 2007 complaint under the Canadian Human Rights Act charging that Canada discriminates against Indigenous children by underfunding child and family services on reserves. In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found the complaint had merit, and ordered the federal government to cease its discriminatory practices.

Dr. Blackstock is Executive Director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and Professor in the School of Social Work at McGill University. She has contributed to several UN initiatives, including collaborating with other Indigenous leaders to support development of a General Comment on the Rights of Indigenous children, and is a Commissioner for the Pan American Health Organization Commission on Health Equity and Inequity. She has authored dozens of publications and is a gifted speaker who uses her platform to keep matters of Indigenous health, social and educational services at the forefront of Canadian and international consciousness.

A member of the Gitxsan First Nation in northwest British Columbia, Dr. Blackstock has a BA from UBC, a Master’s in Management from McGill, a PhD in Social Work from the University of Toronto, a Master of Jurisprudence from Loyola University and more than a dozen honorary degrees. She has received the Amnesty International Ambassador of Conscience Award, the Canadian Labour Congress Award for Outstanding Service to Humanity, the Jack Layton Award from the Broadbent Institute, and the Law Society of Upper Canada Human Rights Award.

Dr. Jack D. Gerrow

A lasting legacy in dentistry education
Monday, May 28 – 4 p.m. ceremony

Dr. Jack D. Gerrow has made a profound and lasting mark on how dentistry is taught and evaluated, both in Canada and abroad. As the Chair and Registrar of the National Dental Examining Board (NDEB) for 24 years, he used scientific methods to increase the quality and fairness of evaluations and licensing exams, developing techniques that have been adopted internationally. As a Dalhousie professor, Dr. Gerrow was instrumental in implementing a zero-based curriculum review, a process which involves starting with a blank slate and rebuilding the curriculum from the ground up. He tirelessly advocated for the evaluation of dental competencies, the specific skillsets that dental students must demonstrate before becoming independent practitioners.

Dr. Gerrow grew up in Waterford, Ontario. He earned his DDS from the University of Toronto in 1979 and went on to complete a Master of Science and Certificate in Prosthodontics at the University of Iowa in 1985. He began his teaching career at Dalhousie later that year. While at Dalhousie, he completed a Master of Education degree and received numerous honours, including awards for Teaching Excellence from the Alumni Association and from the Association of Canadian Faculties of Dentistry. Now Professor Emeritus, Dr. Gerrow lives in Ottawa, where he retired from the NDEB in late 2017. He was recently appointed executive director of the Canadian Dental Regulatory Authorities Federation and adjunct professor at the University of Toronto. Dr. Gerrow received the 2018 Gies Award for Innovation in Dental Education. This is his first honorary degree.

S. I. Rustum Southwell

Supporting Black entrepreneurship and community leadership
Tuesday, May 29 – 9 a.m. ceremony

A passionate community leader, S. I. Rustum Southwell is best known as the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Black Business Initiative (BBI), an organization that addresses the specific needs of the Black business community in Halifax. He has shepherded the creation and expansion of hundreds of Black-owned and operated businesses. From 1996 to 2012, Mr. Southwell led the BBI, taking it from a fledgling organization to an integral part of the economic and entrepreneurial landscape of this province. Two years ago, he returned as Interim CEO.

Mr. Southwell came to Halifax more than 45 years ago from the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts, and studied at Dalhousie before starting a career in food service. He became one of the first Black franchisees in Nova Scotia as the owner-operator of a Harvey’s restaurant in Halifax. He has chaired the board of Hope Blooms Youth Ventures Inc., vice-chaired the Caribbean Association of Nova Scotia, co-chaired the African Heritage Month Committee, and has been involved with the Black Loyalist Heritage Society, the Black Cultural Society and the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children Strategic Planning Workgroup. He has served on the boards of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, the Waterfront Development Corporation and the United Way of Halifax. He is a member of the Black Loyalist Heritage Society Board of Directors, and returned in 2016 for a second term on the Board of Governors of the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). NSCC awarded Mr. Southwell an Honorary Diploma from the School of Business in 2012. This is his first honorary degree.

Lynn Clark Irving

A transformative leader in business and philanthropy
Wednesday, May 30 – 4 p.m. ceremony

As chair of the medical research capital campaign for Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick, Lynn Clark Irving made it possible for all medical students at Dalhousie to learn best practices in workplace health and safety and occupational wellness. Of the incredible $15 million raised by this campaign, $5 million was earmarked to fund the J.D. Irving Ltd. Chair in Occupational Medicine, Canada’s first fully endowed chair in this field. Mrs. Irving’s extensive service to Dalhousie includes sitting on the Board of Governors from 2003 to 2012, during which she was an integral part of the Bold Ambitions Leadership Council that helped raise $280 million for the university. She also has served on Board of the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation since 2016.

Lynn Irving grew up in Kentville, NS. She earned a BSc from Acadia and a Diploma in Physiotherapy from Dalhousie. Mrs. Irving is an internal consultant for Irving Health Services at J.D. Irving Limited, where she has helped develop and implement award-winning workplace wellness, disability management, and employee health and productivity programs. She has served as a school board trustee, on the Board of Governors of Rothesay Netherwood School, as chair of the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation Foundation Board, and on the Boards of Symphony New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Foundation for the Arts. She currently sits on the Board of Directors of the IWK Health Centre. Mrs. Irving was honoured with the Paul Harris Fellowship by the Rotary Club of Rothesay Kings in 2013 and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. This is her first honorary degree.

Dr. Robert H. Frank

Renowned economic scholar and commentator
Friday, June 1 – 9 a.m. ceremony

As a clear-eyed commentator, accomplished scholar and gifted teacher, Robert H. Frank has advanced economic thought by combining insights from evolutionary biology, psychology and economics. His work reminds us that we have the power to turn back the tide of rising economic and democratic inequality.

Dr. Frank has authored more than a dozen books, including The Winner-Take-All Society. Co-authored with Philip Cook, it has garnered several awards, including the New York Times Notable Book of the Year and the San Francisco Review of Books Critics Choice Award. His writing has appeared hundreds of times in professional journals and popular publications, including the New York Times, where his “Economic View” column appeared every five weeks for more than a decade.

Dr. Frank completed a BS in Mathematics at Georgia Tech, and an MA in Statistics and a PhD in Economics, both from the University of California at Berkeley. He has spent most of his academic career at Cornell, and today is a Professor of Economics and the Henrietta Johnson Louis Professor of Management at the Johnson Graduate School of Management. He has won the Johnson School’s Stephen Russell Distinguished Teaching Award three times, received the 2004 Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought, and was named the 2000-01 French-American Foundation Professor of American Civilization for Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in France. In 2008, he was awarded an honorary degree in economics from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Dr. Peter William O’Hearn

Innovation that has transformed programming theory and practice
Saturday, June 2 – 9 a.m. ceremony

Innovation has been and continues to be the hallmark of Dr. Peter William O’Hearn’s academic career. His research in the areas of programming languages and mathematical logic led to the invention of Separation Logic, and more recently Concurrent Separation Logic—theories that underlie programs to automatically check other software for errors and have opened up entire fields of research. He has also been a leader in putting theory into practice: his software analysis tool, Infer, has been used to improve and find errors in software used by companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Uber. In 2009, he co-founded software development company Monoidics Ltd., which developed the Infer Static Analyzer and was later acquired by Facebook. Staying on as a manager engineering, in 2015 Dr. O’Hearn and his team made Infer open source software free to developers everywhere.

Dr. O’Hearn, who grew up in Halifax County, earned his Bachelor of Science at Dalhousie and has a Master of Science and PhD degrees from Queens University. He began his teaching career in 1991 at Syracuse University, later moving on to positions at Queen Mary University of London and University College London, where he teaches today. Dr. O’Hearn was awarded the 2012 Royal Academy of Engineering/Microsoft Research Chair. In 2016, he received the Computer Aided Verification Conference Award and the Gödel Prize (both for the invention of Concurrent Separation Logic), and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering. This is Dr. O’Hearn’s first honorary degree.

Dr. John Ralston Saul

Prolific Canadian author and advocate
Saturday, June 2 – 12:30 p.m. ceremony

Dr. John Ralston Saul is a prolific writer, thinker, public intellectual and advocate for active and engaged citizenship. He has deeply influenced how we consider issues of history and identity. Dr. Ralston Saul has published 14 books of fiction and non-fiction alongside dozens of other essays, reports, and contributions to anthologies. He is General Editor of the Penguin Extraordinary Canadians project, served as president of PEN International from 2009 to 2015, and is the founder and Honorary Chair of French for the Future. He co-founded and now co-chairs the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national charity that inspires Canadians to be inclusive, embrace fresh thinking and practise active citizenship. He considers the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians to be the defining question of our time.

After completing a BA (Honours) from McGill University in 1969, Dr. Ralston Saul went on to earn a PhD in 1972 from King’s College, University of London. He has been described as a “prophet” by TIME magazine and was named one of the world’s 100 leading thinkers and visionaries by Utne Reader. He is the recipient of 19 honorary degrees from institutions across Canada and abroad, and his many honours include the Pablo Neruda International Presidential Medal of Honour, the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction, the Writers’ Union of Canada Freedom to Read Award, and the World Prize of Humanism by the Ohrid Academy of Humanism in Macedonia. He has been named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres de France and a Companion of the Order of Canada.


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