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Convocation approaches

Honorary degrees to be awarded during spring ceremonies

Campus and Community

By Memorial University

Memorial’s spring convocation will see more than 2,500 graduate and undergraduate students recognized for years of hard work.

Convocation takes place at the Corner Brook Civic Centre on May 16 and at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre from May 28-31.

Along with celebrating Memorial’s newest graduates, spring convocation is also an opportunity to recognize leading cultural, academic and social leaders with the awarding of honorary degrees.

Honorary degrees will be awarded to performer and cultural leader Shirley Montague; Dr. Ian Simpson, a community doctor and community activist; former Newfoundland and Labrador lieutenant-governor Frank Fagan; philanthropist Elaine Dobbin; Dr. Norman Campbell, a champion of the prevention and control of hypertension; and the entertainers Kevin Blackmore, Wayne Chaulk and Ray Johnson, also known as Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers.

Biographies of the honorary graduands follow below.

Honorary degree recipients are chosen from nominations submitted by the public to the Senate, the university’s academic governing body, after a careful examination of the grounds for their nomination. The honorary doctorate degree is designed to recognize extraordinary contribution to society or the university or exceptional intellectual or artistic achievement.

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, Memorial’s president and vice-chancellor, will address all sessions of convocation and will be joined by other members of Memorial’s senior administration who will speak at various ceremonies.

For further information about convocation, please visit the convocation website.

Ceremonies will be broadcast live on www.mun.ca during each session of convocation. The recorded broadcasts will be archived on Memorial’s convocation website for future viewing.


Shirley Montague

Born in North West River, Labrador, Shirley Montague began performing at the age of 15 and, after moving to Norris Point in the mid-1970s, continued to write, perform and produce music and to develop cultural programs.

She has been called one of the most widely accomplished, recognized and respected figures in the provincial arts, music and cultural industries. Ms. Montague continues to celebrate and preserve the traditional music of Labrador. In 1988 she wrote original music for the Ode to Labrador and rearranged the lyrics to incorporate Inuktitut and Innu-aimun translations.

In 1993 Ms. Montague produced the compilation Our Labrador, which includes folk songs in the three languages of Labrador. In 1999, in collaboration with Eric West, she produced Gros Morne: A Musical Journey, a haunting musical interpretation inspired by the culture and landscape of the national park.

In 2008 she led the Remembering the Red Bay Basques project, a compilation recording celebrating the 16th-century Basques whaling history. In 2014 Red Bay was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

An organizer as well as an artist, Ms. Montague spearheaded the creation of the Gros Morne Musicians in Residence program and is the founder and longtime artistic director of the Trails Tales Tunes festival in Norris Point/Gros Morne National Park.

She has served on many arts- and tourism-related committees and boards, including MusicNL, Factor and ArtsNL, to name a few. She also served with organizations such as the Provincial Women’s Institutes, Marble Mountain Development Corporation and the Judicial Council.
She is a longstanding board member with Gros Morne Cooperating Association (GMCA) and was involved in the establishment of the office of Creative Gros Morne (a vehicle for the arts in Gros Morne) under the umbrella of GMCA.

Ms. Montague has been recognized for her work with numerous awards, including Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador’s Cultural Tourism Award, Music NL’s Denis Parker Industry Builder Award, ECMA’s Stompin’ Tom Unsung Hero Award and the Historic Sites Manning Award.

She was a major researcher and consultant for the 1996 study of the economic benefits of the sound recording industry in the province and has operated her own production company, Butter and Snow Productions.

For her many contributions to creating and sustaining the cultural heritage of Labrador and for being a pillar of the music industry in this province, Shirley Montague will receive a doctor of laws degree, honoris causa, during convocation in Corner Brook on Thursday, May 16, at 10 a.m.

Dr. Ian Simpson

Dr. Ian Simpson’s contributions have been of benefit not only in the local community where he practised but to the province as a whole. He has been a stalwart and consistent activist in environmental issues related to human health.

He has helped to strengthen and expand the cultural community in the Corner Brook area and was specifically of service to Memorial University as an early member of the advisory board set up for the college that has since become Grenfell Campus.

Born in Towersey, England, Dr. Simpson was educated at Cambridge University in the U.K. and began his medical career at the St. Lawrence Cottage Hospital. He accepted a role as a family physician at the West Coast Medical Clinic in Corner Brook in 1965.

During his medical career, Dr. Simpson served as chief of staff at the Western Health Care Corporation and medical director of Geriatric Services at the O’Connell Centre, Corner Brook.

Although he retired from full-time family service in 2001, Dr. Simpson maintained his habit of giving of his training and experience, effectively being only semi-retired for several years while he assisted in the chemotherapy unit and the long-term care residence.

His environmental activism began when he encountered patients suffering health effects from mining during his first posting in Newfoundland, and attempted to bring these issues to the attention of others. The effects of mining and pesticides on human health have been his chief concern. He has been consistently vocal on such issues throughout his career and retirement.

He helped establish a local orchestra and through the years acted as a patron and advocate of such local initiatives as Gros Morne Summer Music and the Comer Brook Arts and Culture Centre Series. Most recently the establishment of the Rotary Arts Centre in the new Corner Brook City Hall has received his support.

He was named Canadian College of Family Physicians Family Physician of the Year in 1995, was granted Honorary Life Membership in the Canadian Medical Association in 2006 and received the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association Lifetime Membership Award in 2017.

For his exceptional public service and impact on community well-being, especially in and around Corner Brook, as well as for his tenacious advocacy work related to environmental health, Ian MacDougall Simpson will receive a doctor of laws degree, honoris causa, during convocation in Corner Brook on Thursday, May 16, at 10 a.m.

Elaine Dobbin

For more than 20 years, Elaine Dobbin has made significant philanthropic contributions to improve society in Newfoundland and Labrador and beyond, with a primary focus on health and education.

In particular, she has been successful at improving the well-being of those affected by autism. Mrs. Dobbin was the driving force behind the raising of $1.9 million and the completion of the Elaine Dobbin Centre for Autism in St. John’s in 2016, and continues, in her role as patron of the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador and honorary member of the board of directors, to organize and lead major fundraising events and partnerships, as well as act as a strong advocate for autism in the community.

In addition to her efforts and achievements for persons with autism, there have been others. Since 2002 Mrs. Dobbin has donated $50,000 annually to Memorial University for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis research.

In 2012 she made the most generous donation to Memorial University by an individual. Due to this extraordinary gift, Memorial renamed the Faculty of Medicine’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Human Genetics to the Craig L. Dobbin Genetics Research Centre, in honour of Mrs. Dobbin’s late husband.

In addition, Mrs. Dobbin has worked tirelessly over the years supporting numerous causes, including the Newfoundland and Labrador Lung Association; Newfoundland Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation; Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation; Art Gallery of Newfoundland and Labrador; Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra; Shallaway Choir; Battle Harbour Historic Trust; CNIB Foundation; and the Colon and Colitis Foundation.

Outside Newfoundland and Labrador, Mrs. Dobbin, along with her late husband, Craig L. Dobbin, established the Craig and Elaine Dobbin/Nancy P. Blumenthal Professorship for Advanced Lung Disease at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a board member of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation and the Grace Education Foundation, a dual charity in Canada and India. Until 2011 Mrs. Dobbin sat on the board of the Ireland Canada University Foundation located in Dublin, Ireland.

Mrs. Dobbin has been awarded a number of accolades for her generosity and caring, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013 and the Canadian Red Cross Humanitarian Award in 2014. She was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2015 and was awarded the Senate 150th Anniversary Medal in 2018.

For her advocacy, leadership and philanthropy in Newfoundland and Labrador, especially in the areas of medical research and community-based care for individuals living with autism, Elaine Dobbin will receive a doctor of laws degree, honoris causa, during the 10 a.m. session of convocation in St. John’s on Tuesday, May 28.

Frank Fagan

Frank F. Fagan became the 13th lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador in March 2013 following a distinguished career in business and many years of community service.

He holds a bachelor of arts degree and a master of business administration degree from Memorial.

Mr. Fagan is the former executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Bell Aliant and was a member of the board of directors of Bell Nordic. Prior to his retirement in 2008, he was a senior telecommunications professional, having worked in the industry for 46 years. Under his leadership, the company invested billions of dollars into the economy and transformed the telecommunications network in the province.

Through his various leadership roles as vice-president and president of the Vera Perlin Society, secretary and treasurer of Island Furniture, vice-president of the Newfoundland Association for Community Living and treasurer of the St. John’s Special Olympics Association, Mr. Fagan has been instrumental in integrating persons with developmental disabilities into the workplace and the community.

He has served as chair of the board of directors of the Health Care Foundation and was the founding member of Literacy Foundation. He was governor for the Junior Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame and was a founding member of the Newfoundland chapter of Telecom Pioneers of American, also serving as international chair and president of the organization.

Together with his wife, Patricia Fagan, the couple established the Frank and Pat Fagan Family Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Community Leadership in the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial. They also established the Dr. Richard Fagan Memorial Scholarship for Academic Excellence and Innovative Thinking in Memorial’s Department of Biochemistry.

In 2006 Memorial honoured Mr. Fagan with a Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2009 he was honoured by the Canadian Red Cross as the recipient of the Newfoundland and Labrador Humanitarian of the Year. In 2011 he was appointed a member of the Order of Canada.

For his lifelong commitment to the betterment of his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador as a volunteer, humanitarian, philanthropist and business leader, Frank F. Fagan will receive a doctor of laws degree, honoris causa, during the 3 p.m. session of convocation in St. John’s on Wednesday, May 29.

Dr. Norman Campbell

Dr. Norman Robert Campbell is a general internist, a professor of medicine and a member of the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta and O’Brien Institute of Public Health at the University of Calgary.

He moved to Newfoundland and Labrador following his high school education in Ontario to attend Memorial University, where he competed on the varsity basketball and volleyball teams. After two years, he was accepted into the MD program in the Faculty of Medicine. As a result, he was awarded a B.Med.Sci. degree, followed by his doctor of medicine degree.

Dr. Campbell completed his residency in internal medicine at Memorial, and eventually took up a faculty position in the Discipline of Internal Medicine where he was an active researcher, teacher, public health advocate and clinician.

Dr. Campbell accepted a position at the University of Calgary in 1990. He rose to national and international prominence as a champion for the control and prevention of hypertension in Canada and globally.

In addition to serving as president of numerous hypertension organizations in Canada and around the world, Dr. Campbell was the driving force behind the Canadian Hypertension Education Program (CHEP). Not only was the program the first annual clinical evidence review process in the world, it combined the creation of evidence-based clinical practice guidelines with an active and aggressive dissemination process and an equally active focus on educating patients on hypertension prevention and control. CHEP was associated with a five-fold increase in control of hypertension in Canada.

He has published more than 450 peer-reviewed manuscripts and has presented at more than 450 national and international conferences.
Dr. Campbell has received a number of honours and awards, including the Guenter Award for International Health in 2013, the Fellowship in the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences in 2014, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society Dr. Howard N. Segall Award of Merit in 2014 and the Canadian Medical Association Frederic Newton Gisborne Starr Award in 2015.

In 2017 the World Hypertension League named an award the Norman Campbell Excellence Award for Population Hypertension Prevention and Control. In 2014 he was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada.

For not only generating new knowledge as a researcher and a scientist, but for also translating knowledge for the benefit of health-care professionals in a wide array of disciplines and for the direct benefit of patients, Dr. Norman Robert Campbell will receive a doctor of science degree, honoris causa, during the 10 a.m. session of convocation in St. John’s on Thursday, May 30.

Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers: Kevin Blackmore, Wayne Chaulk and Ray Johnson

The iconic group Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers has been performing together for more than 35 years, delighting audiences around the province and across the country.

The trio of Kevin Blackmore, Wayne Chaulk and Ray Johnson has produced some 20 albums and at least 85 original songs. Rex Murphy called the trio “the finest, most talented comedy-songwriting trio on the island. Set aside their wit, craft with dialect and musicianship. They are three splendid human beings, and the most authentic … retailers of genuine Newfoundland spirit on stage this generation.”

Kevin Luke Blackmore

Raised in Gander, N.L., Kevin Blackmore has been performing since he was a five-year-old. From the age of 18 he’s worked in bands or as a soloist, learning how to do everything from making noise in front of a microphone to booking and tour arranging. He worked with Chris Lorne Elliott for three years beginning in 1979 in a duo named Free Beer, doing shows predominantly in Eastern Canada. The duo recorded one album, Clueless, released in 1982. As well as writing a good chunk of show material for Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers – songs, tunes and sketches – he’s been the booking, contracting and tour arranger for the group.

Wayne Chaulk

Wayne Chaulk grew up in Charlottetown, N.L., and lives there today. After graduating from Memorial University with a BA, B.Ed. and a diploma in industrial arts, he taught, coached and worked on musical productions in the Glovertown school system for 15 years. All that changed with the formation of the group in 1983. Mr. Chaulk is the writer of many of the band’s iconic tunes, including Saltwater Joys and Song for Newfoundland, and much of the comedy material. He also managed the financial and business aspects of the group.

Raymond John Johnson

Raymond Johnson received a certificate in commercial art from the College of Trades and Technology (now College of the North Atlantic) and a BFA Ed. degree from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, in Halifax, N.S. Prior to the trio’s inception, Mr. Johnson recorded seven albums of Newfoundland folk songs and tunes, specializing in melodic accordion and fiddle playing. He has preserved a large portion of folk music from the Conception Bay North area in which he was raised. He has also found time to write several books.

For their contribution to creating and preserving Newfoundland and Labrador’s musical and comedic cultural heritage, both collectively and individually, the members of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers – Kevin Luke Blackmore, Wayne Chaulk and Raymond John Johnson – will be awarded the degrees doctor of letters, honoris causa, during the 3 p.m. session of convocation in St. John’s on Friday, May 31.

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