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Convocation returns

Ceremonies to proceed in person after year-and-a-half hiatus

By Memorial University

Memorial University will see graduating students cross the convocation stage to receive their parchments in person this fall.

In-person convocation ceremonies, specially staged to comply with public health requirements, will take place at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on Thursday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Oct. 22.

Memorial has also announced the names of three people to whom it will award honorary doctorates.

Mental health administration leader Louise Bradley, family physician and Newfoundland Swilers Rugby Club founder Dr. Noel Browne, and musician and music teacher Kelly Russell will receive honorary doctoral degrees on Thursday, Oct. 21, and Friday, Oct. 22.

Biographies of the 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 850 undergraduate and graduate students will receive degrees during four sessions of convocation in St. John’s.

A distinguished retired faculty member, Dr. Andrea Rose, who was recently accorded the title professor emerita by the university’s Senate, will also be recognized at convocation.

For more information about fall convocation 2021, including modifications to the ceremonies and related services due to COVID-19, please visit the convocation website.

Ceremonies will be webcast live at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. from Oct. 21-22 via the main page of the university’s website.


Louise Bradley

Louise Bradley wears grey glasses and a cream suit with a gold brooch.
Louise Bradley
Photo: Submitted

For her transformational leadership in the field of mental health administration, Louise Bradley will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at fall convocation 2021.

Ms. Bradley has been a leader and advocate for mental health throughout her entire career, beginning as a registered nurse in Corner Brook and onward from clinical care to key leadership roles in complex health-care settings, including forensic and correctional centres.

For more than a decade, she was the president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. In that capacity, just a few of her achievements are the development of Canada’s first Mental Health Strategy, the world’s first Psychological Safety Standard for the Workplace and Opening Minds, a 10-year, anti-stigma initiative. She retired from that role in April of this year.

Ms. Bradley continues her efforts to change the mental health landscape and hence better the lives of all, strongly asserting that there is no health without mental health. Some of her current activities include board work for organizations devoted to improving health outcomes and ensuring dignity for homeless individuals and those needing palliative care.

She is the recipient of several honorary degrees and awards such as the Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Psychological Association and has taken her advocacy abroad with numerous speaking engagements internationally.

She was admitted to the Order of Canada in 2019 and the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2020. She received the Innovation Award for Health Care Leadership (Canadian College of Health Leaders), and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Dr. Noel Browne

Noel Browne wears a black blazer, white shirt and a pink, white and green tie. A window with trees showing is in the background.For his sustained and exceptional contributions to the sport of rugby in this province and in Canada, retired family physician and former president of Newfoundland Swilers Rugby Club Dr. Noel Browne will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at fall convocation 2021.

A graduate of Blackrock College and Galway University, Dr. Browne came to St John’s from Ireland in the late 1960s to start his medical career and has made a substantial contribution to family medicine in the St John’s region.

When Dr. Browne arrived in Newfoundland and Labrador, the sport of rugby was not played in the province. He quickly got organized, sent a sevens team to play on the mainland, and founded the Newfoundland Rugby Union in 1974.

An accomplished player and coach, Dr. Browne founded the Newfoundland Swilers Rugby Club and served as its president for 20 years, during which he raised funds to improve recreational facilities and gave the province a presence in the Canadian rugby landscape.

In recent years, rugby in Newfoundland and Labrador has never been stronger, epitomized by the Senior Rock team that won four national gold medals between 2005 and 2010, and a junior national gold in 2010.

Dr. Browne also played a lead role in the development of the Swilers Rugby Complex and the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Complex.

In 2016 he was invested into the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador for his work in medicine and sport. He is also a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Sports Hall of Fame.

Kelly Russell

Kelly Russell wears black glasses and a black shirt.
Kelly Russell
Photo: Submitted

For his lifelong contributions to Newfoundland and Labrador folk music as a professional musician and music teacher, and for being a collector of more than 500 unique traditional tunes, Kelly Russell will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree at fall convocation 2021.

A professional musician since 1975, Mr. Russell has been a member of landmark groups Figgy Duff, the Wonderful Grand Band, Plankerdown Band, Bristol’s Hope, Kelly Russell and the Planks, and the Irish Descendants.

Working closely for many years with legendary fiddlers Rufus Guinchard and Emile Benoit, learning, recording and documenting their unique music, he has inherited genuine status as one of Newfoundland and Labrador’s leading traditional music performers.

A prominent musical ambassador, Mr. Russell has performed across the country and around the world. His record label, Pigeon Inlet Productions, has released well over 30 full length recordings on LP, cassette and CD.

He has been active in reviving the art of storytelling and recitation, inspired by his late father, Ted Russell, and has also published two volumes of the Kelly Russell’s Collection – The Fiddle Music of Newfoundland and Labrador, containing music notation for more than 500 tunes from more than two dozen fiddlers.

Mr. Russell was awarded the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Award for Music (1987), twice awarded the Tourism Industry Association Certificate of Recognition (1991, 1997), the prestigious Marius Barbeau Award (1997) for his contribution to Canadian Folklore, and the City of St. John’s Legend Award (1999).

Mr. Russell was also designated the province’s first Tradition Bearer, awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and named to the Order of Canada.

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