With Dalhousie set to resume in-person graduation ceremonies this spring, the presentation of Dalhousie's highest honour is also returning to the Convocation stage.
Dalhousie will present eight outstanding individuals with honorary degrees during Spring Convocation ceremonies this upcoming May and June. This marks the return to in-person presentations following a year off in 2020 and a virtual presentation of honorary degrees in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Honorary degrees are awarded to individuals across a wide range of disciplines and achievements. They recognize people who have shown inspirational leadership; oustanding contributions to a field or discipline of study or a non‐academic area of achievement; and/or outstanding achievement at or contributions to Dalhousie. Candidates are reviewed and recommended by the Senate Honorary Degrees Committee and approved by the university Senate.
This year's honours will be presented across the 17 Convocation ceremonies that begin on Tuesday, May 24 and continue through Friday, June 3. For more information on Spring Convocation, visit the Convocation website.
A leader in entrepreneurship and humanitarianism
Thursday, June 2 - 9 a.m. ceremony
The life and career of Quebec-born Ruma Bose (MBA’99) has been shaped by several transformative experiences, perhaps none more so than the eight months of her early 20s she spent volunteering with Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity in India. Ever since, the Dalhousie MBA graduate has strived to find ways to link business and entrepreneurship with social impact. This was true from the very first company she founded: a floor-finishing business that sought to make tangible improvements in the lives of its largely immigrant workforce. And it’s continued to hold true as she’s helped national and international companies discover the positive change they can make on the world around them.
Bose is currently currently Chief Growth Officer at Clearco, a Canadian SoftBank-backed fintech unicorn and the world’s largest e-commerce investor. Previously, she was co-founder and managing partner of Humanitarian Ventures, an investment fund linking high-growth technology companies with opportunities to benefit the humanitarian sector. Earlier in her career, she helped top-selling Greek yogurt brand Chobani expand its social mission with Chobani Ventures and the Tent Foundation, which works to respond to the global refugee crisis. In 2017, Bose co-founded and launched the Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative with Sir Richard Branson and authored its flagship report Entrepreneurship: Canada’s Golden Opportunity. An in-demand speaker who’s been featured in the world’s top business publications, Bose’s awards and honours include the 2020 Dalhousie Scotiabank Ethical Leadership Award.
Philanthropist and community-builder
Tuesday, May 31 - 9 a.m. ceremony
Elizabeth Fountain’s philanthropic leadership extends across Nova Scotia and Canada. Born in the Spryfield neighbourhood of Halifax, her generosity and dedication to health, the arts, education, culture, and the environment have benefitted dozens of organizations. She and her husband Fred have provided transformative charitable support to organizations as wide-ranging as the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, the Black Loyalist Heritage Centre, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Symphony Nova Scotia and the National Arts Centre, to name a few. They’ve also made significant donations to several universities, including Dalhousie — most notably the transformative gift that helped create the Fountain School of Performing Arts. The Fountains, in partnership with the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation, also founded the Stay Connected Mental Health Project in honour of their son, Alex, who died by suicide in 2009.
Elizabeth Fountain has been awarded honorary degrees from the University of King’s College and Mount Saint Vincent University, her alma mater. In 2017, she was honoured by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health as a National Difference Maker. She is also an honorary trustee of the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation, a distinguished patron of the National Gallery of Canada, and is honorary co-chair for the Dalhousie Arts Centre Expansion Campaign.
James (Jim) Hanlon
Convener and champion of the ocean technology sector
Wednesday, June 1 - 4 p.m. ceremony
Jim Hanlon’s (BEng’79) leadership has helped unlock the vast potential of Atlantic Canada's ocean economy. As the founding CEO of the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE), he’s fostered rich collaborations between industry, government and universities and developed new talent in the sector as a mentor to up-and-coming researchers and entrepreneurs.
Born in Nova Scotia with an engineering degree from Dalhousie and a MBA from Saint Mary’s, Hanlon has led a 40-year career as an ocean technology entrepreneur and executive with senior roles in engineering, marketing and general management. He played an integral role in helping attract nearly half a billion dollars in public and private investment in the sector to the region between 2014 and 2019. A decade ago, Hanlon took on the role of initial CEO of the newly formed Halifax Marine Research Institute (HMRI), and later spearheaded efforts to establish COVE as its successor. Under his leadership, COVE grew into a $30-million, 60-tenant ocean technology hub that has drawn admirers from various countries looking to mirror its success.
A consummate matchmaker, Hanlon brings agile leadership, strategic thinking and persistent optimism to the table in building bridges across sectors and through his work on boards and as a mentor with initiatives such as CDL-Atlantic.
Dr. Bonnie Henry
Provincial health officer and globally accomplished health leader
Tuesday, May 24 - 9 a.m. ceremony
Public health leaders across the country have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with incredible dedication. Even among this outstanding group, Dr. Bonnie Henry (MD’90) has received national attention and recognition for leading British Columbia’s response with good judgment, confident professionalism and compassionate empathy.
Her work as B.C.’s provincial health officer is informed by an impressive background on the global stage. Dr. Henry’s extensive experience in public health and preventative medicine includes roles with the World Health Organization/UNICEF polio eradication program in Pakistan and the WHO’s work to control the Ebola outbreak in Uganda. She was operational lead in the response to the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto and a member of the Canadian Pandemic Coordinating Committee responding to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. She has also recently introduced significant and innovative measures to confront the drug overdose emergency in British Columbia.
A graduate of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine, Dr. Henry also holds a master’s in Public Health from the University of California San Diego. Dr. Henry has written two books: Soap and Water and Common Sense and Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe: Four Weeks that Shaped a Pandemic. In 2022, she was awarded the Order of British Columbia and the British Columbia Medal of Good Citizenship.
Dr. George T. Mencher
International leader in audiology and hearing loss
Monday, May 30 - 4 p.m. ceremony
Dr. George Mencher has been active in the field of audiology around the world for more than five decades. In addition to his work as a professor of audiology in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Dalhousie from 1974 to 2012, he was instrumental in founding the school itself. He also served as director of the Nova Scotia Hearing and Speech Centres for over 20 years. Throughout his life, Dr. Mencher has volunteered in dozens of countries to develop screening programs, train personnel, and provide audiology services. He was instrumental in the establishment of infant hearing screening programs across Canada and is a pioneer in the early identification of hearing loss.
With over 100 scholarly articles and seven books to his credit, Dr. Mencher has served in a variety of roles, including secretary general and president for the International Society of Audiology; president of Speech-Language Audiology Canada; president of the Canadian Association of Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists; and on several federal government task forces on hearing impairment and audiology. He has received the Honors of the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association, the Global Village Award for Significant Contributions to Audiology Worldwide from the American Audiology Association, and the Honours of the Association from the Canadian Academy of Audiology.
Dr. Pamela Palmater
Lawyer, educator, activist and author
Tuesday, May 24 - 12:30 p.m. ceremony
For the past 30 years, Dr. Pamela Palmater (LLM’99, JSD’09) has been a courageous and outspoken leader whose legal, social and political work has been instrumental in developing policy and legislation on issues concerning Indigenous sovereignty. Across her career she has studied, worked, volunteered and mobilized others to take action on issues of vital importance for Indigenous peoples. She is the author of several books, the most recent of which, Warrior Life, has been described as “a rallying cry for Indigenous peoples and allies alike to forge a path toward a decolonial future.”
Dr. Palmater grew up within a large family in Ugpi’ganjig/Eel River Bar First Nation in northern New Brunswick. A two-time graduate of Dalhousie’s Schulich School of Law, where she specialized in Indigenous and constitutional law, she is currently professor and chair in Indigenous Governance in the Department of Politics and Public Administration at Toronto Metropolitan University. She is also a member of the Canada Research Chair program’s College of Reviewers. Her expertise has been sought after by Canadian Parliament and the United Nations, and she is the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including the Award for Excellence in Human Rights from the Atlantic Human Rights Centre.
Chief Terry Paul
Chief of the Membertou First Nation and CEO of the Membertou Development Corporation
Thursday, June 2 - 12:30 p.m. ceremony
For nearly four decades, Chief Terry Paul has guided the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton through an incredible economic, social, cultural, and governance transformation. Today, Membertou is one of the most efficient and economically flourishing Indigenous communities in Canada and a role model for community development. Elected in 1984 and re-elected every two years since, Chief Paul is credited with tripling his community’s land base, increasing Membertou’s employment rate to 80 per cent, and building economic and social opportunity for the entire Cape Breton region. In 2021, with Chief Paul at the helm, Membertou made the single largest investment ever by an Indigenous group in Canada with the acquisition of 50 per cent of Clearwater Seafoods.
In 2019, the Membertou Development Corporation — home to 12 corporate entities including Membertou Trade and Convention Centre and Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre — was named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies. Chief Paul has been appointed to the Order of Canada, is an inductee of both the Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Business Halls of Fame and has received the Frank McKenna Leadership Award and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business Lifetime Achievement Award. He holds honorary doctorates from Cape Breton University and Mount Allison University.
Jim M. Spatz
Philanthropist and executive chairman of Southwest Properties Limited
Wednesday, May 25 - 9 a.m. ceremony
Born in Munich, Germany to Holocaust survivors, Jim Spatz (MD’74) immigrated to Canada through Pier 21 with his family as a small child. He started his career as a physician, practising family and then emergency medicine for 15 years. Today, Spatz is an award-winning CEO and philanthropic trailblazer. He has led Southwest Properties Limited, one of Atlantic Canada’s leading real estate developers, for over 30 years.
In 2008, Dr. Spatz founded the Spatz Foundation and has made substantial charitable and volunteer contributions to arts and culture, health, entrepreneurship, and Jewish life regionally and nationally. Countless organizations have benefitted from his generosity, including the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Neptune Theatre, Spatz Theatre, IWK Health Centre, Phoenix Youth Programs, Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Discovery Centre.
Jim Spatz has also been a true friend to Dalhousie, serving on the Board of Governors from 2001 to 2015 and its chair from 2008 to 2014. He sits on the Dalhousie Advisory Council, is a founding partner and Fellow of the Dalhousie-based CDL-Atlantic and was instrumental in establishing the Simon and Riva Spatz Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies, named for his parents. Spatz has been inducted into the Nova Scotia Business Hall of Fame and in 2013 received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
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