Introducing Dal's honorary degree recipients for Spring Convocation 2019

- April 30, 2019

Honorary degree recipients Michaëlle Jean and Sandra Irving. (Provided photos)
Honorary degree recipients Michaëlle Jean and Sandra Irving. (Provided photos)

Convocation is a season of celebration at Dalhousie — first and foremost for the university's newest class of outstanding graduates.

But it's also a time when the university recognizes outstanding achievement through the awarding of honorary degrees. These special honours recognize leadership or service to society, contributions to a field or discipline of study or non-academic achievement, or outstanding achievement at or contributions to the university.

Spring Convocation begins on Friday, May 10 in Truro and resumes from Monday, May 27 through to Saturday, June 1 in Halifax — 17 ceremonies in total. And two of them will feature honorary degree presentations: one to a former Governor General of Canada, and one to one of Atlantic Canada's most prominent community leaders.

Read about both recipients below, and visit the Convocation website to learn more about Spring Convocation ceremonies.

Her Excellency The Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean

A national and global leader of distinction and inspiration
Monday, May 27 – 4 p.m. ceremony

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean is a Canadian of outstanding accomplishment. An immigrant who overcame tremendous obstacles to build a distinguished career in journalism and humanitarianism, she served as Canada’s 27th Governor General and Commander-in-Chief from 2005 to 2010 — the first individual of African descent to hold Canada’s highest vice-regal office.

Born in 1957 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Michaëlle Jean immigrated to Canada in the late 1960s. She holds a BA in Modern Literature and Languages and an MA in Comparative Literature from the Université de Montréal, and also studied in Italy. Prior to serving as Governor General, she had an award-winning career as journalist, presenter and news anchor in both French and English. Immediately after concluding her mandate, she was appointed as special envoy of the United Nations for Haiti to support reconstruction efforts following the devastating 2010 earthquake. She has also served as Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, recently completed a four-year term as Secretary General of La Francophonie and founded the Michaëlle Jean Foundation to fund youth-led community and civic initiatives.

Among her numerous ranks and recognitions from countries around the world, Michaëlle Jean is a Member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada, a Companion of the Order of Canada, Commander of the Order of Military Merit, and winner of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) Canada Award. She has also received honorary degrees from nearly 20 universities.

Sandra L. Irving

Leaving a legacy as a community leader and philanthropist
Friday, May 31 – 12:30 p.m. ceremony

Sandra Irving is a community leader and a champion of education and health care research.

Sandra was born in Saint John, New Brunswick and holds a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Together with her husband Arthur Irving, Chairman of Irving Oil they like to help students achieve their dreams and have endowed full undergraduate scholarships for students at UNB, Acadia, and Dartmouth, and David Naylor Graduate Fellowships for Atlantic Canadian students at the University of Toronto.

Sandra has served on the UNB Board and on advisory boards of Dartmouth College and the Royal Society of Canada where she helped create the Atlantic Canada Chapter. She is a strong proponent of research and together with Arthur, and her daughter Sarah, they recently endowed a Chair in Cancer Research, with a focus on Immunotherapy. Previous Chairs were established in Cardiac Care at MGH and a Chair in Neurology at Lahey, and a Fellowship in Surgery. A lover of dogs, Sandra and her family have contributed to the welcome and reception area and to health care at the Atlantic Vet College of UPEI.

Sandra Irving is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Member of the Order of Canada, and has received Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals. In 2014, the Rotary Club of Saint John awarded her the Paul Harris Fellowship for exemplifying the Rotary motto of “service above self.”


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