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Academic celebration

Fall convocation honorary degree recipients announced

Campus and Community

By Mandy Cook

Memorial University has announced the names of three people to whom it will award honorary doctorates at fall convocation ceremonies in October.

The Corner Brook session of fall convocation will take place at the Arts and Culture Centre on Thursday, Oct. 4. Gerontologist, author and alumna Dr. Anne Martin-Matthews will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Dr. Geoffrey Parker, an evolutionary biologist, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree and businessman, philanthropist and alumnus Robert Crosbie will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at fall convocation sessions in St. John’s on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Arts and Culture Centre.

Biographies of all honorary degree recipients follow below.

Extraordinary contributions

Honorary degree recipients are chosen by the Senate, the university’s academic governing body, after careful examination of the grounds for their nomination.

The honorary doctorate is designed to recognize extraordinary contributions to society or exceptional intellectual or artistic achievement.

The awarding of honorary doctorates, an important feature of Memorial’s convocation, serves to celebrate both the individual and the university as well as to inspire graduates, their families and guests.

Nearly 1,000 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their degrees during fall convocation.

Distinguished retired faculty members who were recently accorded the title professor emeritus/emerita by the university’s Senate will also be recognized at convocation. Dr. Olaf Janzen will be recognized at the Corner Brook session while Drs. Eric Gill, Gerard Martin, Paul Smith and Anne Story will be honoured in St. John’s.

Biographies of honorary graduands

Dr. Anne Martin-Matthews

Anne Martin-Matthews, who completed her bachelor of arts degree at Memorial University and completed her master’s and doctoral degrees at McMaster University, has been instrumental in the formation of research and policy on aging in Canada.

Anne Martin-Matthews
Dr. Anne Martin-Matthews
Photo: Robert Faubert (CIHR)

Over the course of her career, she has been founding director of the Gerontology Research Centre, University of Guelph; director of the School of Family and Nutritional Sciences, University of British Columbia (UBC); associate dean research and dean pro tem, Faculty of Arts, UBC; and scientific director of the Institute of Aging of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Recently, Dr. Martin-Matthews returned to UBC following a 14-month secondment as acting vice-president, Research, Knowledge Translation and Ethics, for CIHR.

Under her leadership, the CIHR Institute of Aging led the development of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging, a 20-year study of 50,000 Canadians. The Institute of Aging also developed strategic initiatives on Cognitive Impairment in Aging, on Mobility in Aging, and on Health Services and Systems for an Aging Population.

Dr. Martin-Matthews’ publications include two books, Aging and Caring at the Intersection of Work and Home Life: Blurring the Boundaries; Widowhood in Later Life; three edited volumes; and more than 180 papers on health and social care, aging and social support, work-family balance and rural aging.

She is a past president of the Research Committee on Aging of the International Sociological Association and a former editor-in-chief of the Canadian Journal on Aging. Internationally, Dr. Martin-Matthews serves on scientific advisory boards for the EXTEND Working Life project, University of Dortmund, Germany; and the Centre of Excellence in Research on Aging and Care, Academy of Finland. She holds an honorary degree from Newcastle University, U.K.

In 2012 CIHR created the Anne Martin-Matthews Doctoral Research Prize of Excellence in Research on Aging in recognition of her commitment to student mentoring in aging. She also holds a UBC Killam Mentoring award and an Excellence in Mentoring Award from the Canadian Association on Gerontology.

Dr. Martin-Matthews is a fellow of the U.S. Gerontological Society of America and of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. She holds Commemorative Medals for both the Golden Jubilee and Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada.

Geoffrey A. Parker

Geoffrey A. Parker has made distinguished contributions to evolutionary biology, in particular to frequency dependency in the evolution of animal behaviour and sexuality.

Dr. Geoff Parker
Dr. Geoff Parker
Photo: Submitted

Dr. Parker earned a bachelor of science degree in 1965 and a doctoral degree in 1969 from the University of Bristol.

His PhD, titled The Reproductive Behaviour and the Nature of Sexual Selection in Scatophaga stercoraria L. (yellow dung fly), provided detailed quantitative tests of Darwin’s theory of sexual selection and early applications of optimality theory in biology.

At the time, most ethologists and ecologists interpreted adaptations in terms of “survival value to the species.” However, the paradigm shift of the gene-centric view of evolution shortly afterwards overturned this idea: mainstream views in behavioural ecology and sociobiology saw natural selection restored to Darwinian principles in terms of reproductive value to the individual (and its kin). Dr. Parker’s work played a part in this shift and in the early development of behavioural ecology.

In 1978-79 Dr. Parker was made a senior research fellow in the Research Centre at King’s College, Cambridge University, and in 1989 he was elected to the Royal Society of London. In 1996 he became the Derby Chair of Zoology at the University of Liverpool and retired in 2009 but remained as professor emeritus and continues his scientific research.

He has served on numerous editorial boards, including Animal Behaviour, American Naturalist and the Journal of Evolutionary Biology; several Royal Society committees; the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Steering Committee for Initiative in Taxonomy in Research and Training; and the Zoological Society of London Awards Committee.

Dr. Parker has received many medals and awards throughout his career, including the Medal of the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour in 2002; the Spallanzani Medal in 2005; the Frink Medal of the Zoological Society of London in 2005; and a doctor of science honoris causa from the University of Bristol in 2011.

In 2008 he was awarded the Darwin Medal of the Royal Society for his lifetime contribution to the foundations and development of behavioural ecology, in particular for understanding evolutionary adaptations and their consequences for natural populations.

Robert S. Crosbie

Robert Crosbie has excelled in business and made exceptional philanthropic contributions to Memorial University and Newfoundland and Labrador during his almost-40-year career.

Robert Crosbie
Robert Crosbie
Photo: Submitted

Mr. Crosbie earned a bachelor of commerce degree from Memorial in 1979 and received the Institute of Corporate Directors designation in 2010. He is the chairman and chief executive officer of Crosbie Group Ltd., a Newfoundland and Labrador fifth-generation family business dating back to the mid-1800s. Crosbie Group Ltd. consists of businesses in onshore industrial, real estate development, construction and offshore oil and gas services sectors in Atlantic Canada, as well as other non-operated investments across Canada and the United States.

Mr. Crosbie’s primary focus is the development of strategy for the group investments in addition to responsibility for the onshore industrial and offshore oil and gas services businesses.

Mr. Crosbie took on the role of chairman and chief executive officer in 1991 — a strenuous time for the company amidst a strained provincial economy. He stabilized the company and identified opportunities for growth in Newfoundland and Labrador’s then-emerging oil and gas industry.

Mr. Crosbie, along with his brothers and sister, continues to deepen the Crosbie family legacy of entrepreneurial ambition, public service and philanthropy throughout the province.

Since graduating from Memorial, Mr. Crosbie has been a steadfast supporter of the Faculty of Business Administration and the entire university. He has served on numerous committees for the faculty and is immediate past chair of the dean’s advisory board.

He is a strong supporter of student success programs at Memorial and has created a fund for students and career-planning initiatives. Over the years, he has extended support to various scholarships at Memorial and, in 1998, established the Robert Crosbie Scholarship of International Study. Mr. Crosbie also served as co-chair of the St. John’s regional volunteer committee for Memorial’s successful Dare To fundraising campaign.

Mr. Crosbie was honoured with the Faculty of Business Administration’s Alumnus of the Year Award in 2003; Memorial University’s J.D. Eaton Tribute Award in 2014; and Ernst Young’s Atlantic Canada Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016.


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