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Convocation set

Seven extraordinary honorary degree recipients announced

Student Life


Some 2,500 degrees, including more than 500 graduate degrees, will be awarded to Memorial University students during 12 sessions of convocation at the Corner Brook Arts and Culture Centre on May 18 and at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre from May 30-June 2.

Along with the newest cohort of spring graduates crossing the stage, Memorial University is presenting seven extraordinary people with degrees honoris causa at spring ceremonies.

Honorary degrees will be awarded to Calvin White, a Mi’kmaw elder; Dr. Frank Hayden, founder of the Special Olympics; Moya Greene, president and CEO of the Royal Mail; Bob McDonald, popular host of the national science radio program, Quirks and Quarks; gardener Ross Traverse; businessperson and philanthropist Donald Lawson; and Marilyn Churley, environmentalist and politician.

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

Calvin White

Calvin WhiteMi’kmaw, and born and raised in Flat Bay, N.L., Calvin White is one of the founders of the Aboriginal revival in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In the 1960s, he helped organize Aboriginal families in the province, including those in Conne River and Labrador, to form the Native Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, which later became the Federation of Newfoundland Indians (FNI).

Mr. White is one of the original petitioners in the 1989 legal action brought by the FNI against the federal government, which eventually resulted in the agreement to form the Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation.

He also owned and operated a hunting and fishing lodge and continued to manage the lodge until retirement in 2011.

A former chief of the Flat Bay band and president of the FNI, Mr. White has also served on many national boards, including the Native Council of Canada, the National Indian Brotherhood, the Aboriginal Liberal Commission and the National Council of Welfare.

In the province, he has served on the boards of the Newfoundland and Labrador Friendship Centre, the Rural Secretariat, the Regional Economic Development Board, the Community Business Development Corporation and the Newfoundland and Labrador Outfitters Association.

Mr. White helped organize the first Aboriginal powwow in Bay St. George, today one of the largest powwows in Atlantic Canada, hosted in his home community of Flat Bay.

He has helped mentor Indigenous youth, as an elder advisor for skills linking programs mentoring some 40 young adults. He still serves as an advisor with the Native Association Woman’s Network, as well as to the Flat Bay Band Council.

Mr. White has also served the Memorial University community through his collaborations at Grenfell Campus. For nearly a decade, he has assisted in research projects and community engagement initiatives pursued by Grenfell faculty and staff. He has facilitated a number of Aboriginal talking circles on campus, has worked with faculty on research and participated in the successful 2013 symposium, Maroon and Mi’kmaq: An International Indigenous Exchange, held at Grenfell Campus.

Mr. White received the Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in 1993 and the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2015.

He was honoured with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from Ulnooweg Development Group, presented to Aboriginal business owners with a longtime commitment to business and business development in 2008.

For his pivotal role in achieving recognition for Newfoundland Mi’kmaq and his longstanding commitment to the rights of his people, Elder Calvin White will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree on Thursday, May 18, during the 10 a.m. session of convocation in Corner Brook.

Frank Hayden

Frank Hayden

Professor emeritus at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., Dr. Frank Hayden has also served on the faculties of the University of Illinois, the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario. From 1975-81 he was director of the School of Physical Education and Athletics at McMaster.

He has a special interest in sport and fitness programs for children, particularly for those with an intellectual disability.

A graduate of Physical Fitness Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, he has spent more than 60 years designing, implementing and evaluating exercise and sport programs.

Based on this research, in 1964 he proposed a national program of sport training and competition for persons with an intellectual disability, culminating with the National Centennial Games in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday.

In 1968 he designed, organized and directed a games in Chicago for 1,000 athletes from 26 states and Canada and named it the Chicago Special Olympics. Within two years Special Olympics organizations were established in all 50 states. This was the beginning of Special Olympics International, the program that currently provides training and competition for more than five million athletes in more than 170 countries.

Dr. Hayden was awarded honorary degrees by McMaster University, the University of Calgary, the University of Toronto, St. Mary’s University (Halifax) and the University of Western Ontario.

In 2010 he received the Distinguished Alumni Award from the College of Applied Health Sciences of the University of Illinois. In 2013 the Halton Regional Board of Education opened a new state-of-the-art high school in Burlington, Ont.: the Dr. Frank J. Hayden Secondary School.

In 2000 Dr. Hayden received his country’s highest honour when he was made an officer of the Order of Canada.

In November 2016 he was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Among his many other honours, Dr. Hayden received la Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris from the mayor of Paris “for significant contributions to the quality of life of the mentally handicapped citizens of Paris over a period of 13 years.”

He was also named to Maclean’s magazine Honour Roll of 12 Outstanding Canadians in 1994 and, in 1996, was the recipient of the prestigious $250,000 Royal Bank Award for “outstanding contribution to human welfare and the common good.”

For his work in both creating the idea for the Special Olympics and for his critical role in developing it, Dr. Frank Hayden will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during the 7:30 p.m. session of convocation on Thursday, May 18, in Corner Brook.

Moya Greene

Moya Greene

Moya Greene was born in St. John’s, N.L., graduated from Memorial University with a bachelor of arts (classics) and then studied law at Osgoode Hall, York University. Upon graduation in 1979, Ms. Greene began her public service career as an immigration adjudicator, later taking positions in the federal Department of Labour and the Privy Council Office.

Noted for her capacity to analyze a situation, develop a strategy for dealing with it and to implement that strategy, Ms. Greene went on to manage a number of demanding federal-provincial files. She did so first in her capacity as director of inter-provincial affairs in the Department of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and later in the Office of Federal-Provincial Relations.

In her subsequent role of assistant deputy minister of policy at Transport Canada, Ms. Greene was responsible for broad reform of the over-burdened transportation system; the privatization of CN Rail; the deregulation of the Canadian airline industry; and the commercialization of the Canadian port system. Reform was also her mandate when, as director general of policy at Employment and Immigration Canada, Ms. Greene led the effort to overhaul the unemployment insurance system.

Ms. Greene has also been a senior officer of three of Canada’s largest multinational companies. In 1996 she joined TD Securities as managing director, infrastructure finance, where she stayed until 2000. That same year she moved into the senior vice-president, retail products, role at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. From 2003-4, Ms. Greene took on the position of senior vice-president, operational effectiveness, at Bombardier. That same year, she was named among the 100 most influential women in Canada by the National Post.

Ms. Greene was appointed president and chief executive officer of Canada Post in 2005. During her tenure, she focused on cost-cutting through reducing absenteeism, increasing automation and improved labour relations. The result was a tripling of Canada Post’s profits, despite a drop in revenues.

In July 2010 she was appointed president and chief executive officer of Britain’s Royal Mail Group, the first non-Briton and woman to hold the post. Ms. Greene’s duties there include the partial privatization of Britain’s postal service.

The Women’s Executive Network named Ms. Greene as one of Canada’s most powerful women in 2004, 2008 and 2011. She received the Sunday Times Business Person of the Year Award in 2013; the following year Ms. Greene received the Financial Times Boldness in Business Award. In 2015 Fortune named her one of the year’s most powerful female CEOs.

For her highly successful career in the corporate world, Moya Greene will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at the 10 a.m. session of convocation on Tuesday, May 30.

Robert McDonald

Bob McDonald

Bob McDonald was born in Wingham, Ont. Known by Canadians as “the science guy,” he is an author and science journalist and has spent the last 40 years as the country’s unofficial science expert. He is nationally and internationally recognized for his ability for bringing complex subjects to the masses in an easy-to-understand format.

Mr. McDonald is the host of CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks, the award-winning science program with nearly half-a-million listeners, and he is CBC Television’s chief science correspondent.

In 1972, with no formal academic training, he began his science communication career as a demonstrator at the Ontario Science Centre, and eventually travelled to California to watch the live action of NASA’s first space probes. Upon returning to Canada, he shared what he had witnessed with Canadians on a variety of shows, and went on to become a regular and popular science correspondent.

From 1986-92 Mr. McDonald was the host and one of the producers of Wonderstruck, a Gemini Award-winning science program for children. He has also hosted a variety of other science and technology-themed shows.

In 2005 he premiered a three-season series on TVOntario called Heads Up!, which he wrote for and hosted. For that role, Mr. McDonald was awarded a Gemini Award for best host in a preschool, children’s or youth program or series.

As a writer, he has authored four bestselling science books and contributed to numerous textbooks, magazines and newspapers, including the Globe and Mail. His Measuring the Earth with a Stick: Science as I’ve Seen It was short-listed for the Canadian Science Writers Association book award. His latest book is Canadian Spacewalkers: Hadfield, MacLean and Williams Remember the Ultimate High Adventure.

In 2001 Mr. McDonald was awarded the Michael Smith Award for Science Promotion from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada; in 2002 he was recognized with the Sandford Fleming Medal from the Royal Canadian Institute. In 2005 he was awarded the McNeil Medal for the Public Awareness of Science from the Royal Society of Canada, completing the “triple crown” of awards for science communication in the country.

In 2010 Mr. McDonald was initiated as an honorary life member of the Sigma Xi, the U.S. society which supports and recognizes excellence in science research and promotion. He holds several honorary degrees from Canadian universities and in 2011 he was appointed as an officer of the Order of Canada.

In 2014 asteroid 332324 was re-named after Mr. McDonald at the request of David D. Balam, the Canadian astronaut who discovered it.

For his outstanding contribution to the promotion of science, Bob McDonald will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during the 10 a.m. session of convocation on Wednesday, May 31.

Ross Traverse

Ross Traverse

Ross Traverse was born in Loon Bay, N.L. His family moved to Bay St. George and he graduated with honours from St. Georges Amalgamated High School in 1962.

He attended the Nova Scotia Agriculture College and, subsequently, MacDonald College of McGill University, graduating in 1966 with a bachelor of science degree in agriculture. He completed a master’s in agriculture from Guelph University in 1970.

Following graduation from Guelph, Mr. Traverse was hired by the Newfoundland Department of Forestry and Agriculture as a horticulturalist. He was appointed director of crop production in 1971, director of extension in 1972 and crops co-ordinator (horticulture and agronomy) with the Department of Fisheries, Food and Agriculture in 1978, a position he held until his retirement in 1995.

During his career with the provincial government, Mr. Traverse became widely known for his expertise in horticulture, providing advice to established commercial greenhouse growers, new entrepreneurs and home gardeners alike on a wide range of horticultural topics.

During his early career, Mr. Traverse was instrumental in developing methods for the production of landscape sod on peat soils and helped pioneer the peat turf grass industry in the province through his help in establishing the province’s first commercial peat turf farm at St. Shotts on Newfoundland’s Southern Shore.

His early retirement from government provided an opportunity to devote more time to his own greenhouse business in Torbay, Traverse Gardens, which he and his wife established in 1978. From this venue, Mr. Traverse continued to provide advice to home gardeners and commercial greenhouse growers in the province.

He became an active member of Landscape Newfoundland and Labrador, where he continues to provide his advice and guidance to other members on a wide range of issues impacting their businesses.

He has contributed gardening columns in local newspapers and magazines, including Memorial University’s Deck’s Awash, The Telegram and Downhomer Magazine.

He has appeared regularly on CBC Radio’s Crosstalk and on VOWR community radio. Through these venues, Mr. Traverse has encouraged many residents of the province to become more engaged in ornamental horticulture, landscaping and fruit and vegetable crop production for profit or simply for their own personal enjoyment. His book, Ask Ross Traverse about Gardening: Practical Advice for Gardeners in a Cool Climate, first published in 2006, is now in its second printing.

Mr. Traverse’s affiliations have also included the Agricultural Institute of Canada, the Canadian Society of Horticultural Science, the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists, the Canadian Consulting Agrologists Association and the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association. In 2014 he was inducted into the Atlantic Agricultural Hall of Fame.

For his contribution to gardening in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ross Traverse will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree on Wednesday, May 31, during the 3 p.m. session of convocation in St. John’s.

Donald Lawson

Don LawsonBorn in Toronto, Ont., Donald Lawson has made his mark as a businessperson, but has matched those achievements with an outstanding and extensive record of community involvement and service.

Mr. Lawson joined the investment firm of Moss Lawson and Co. in 1950 and became a partner later that year. He served as president and chief executive officer of Moss Lawson from 1966-89, and then as its chairman.

After the firm was purchased by HSBC Securities (Canada), he continued as a financial advisor and honorary chairman until his retirement, after 58 years, in 2008.

Mr. Lawson is well known in the charity world for his role with the Counselling Foundation of Canada, a family-based foundation established by his father, Frank G. Lawson.

Since assuming the role of chairman of the Counselling Foundation in 1984, Mr. Lawson led the expansion and updating of the organization’s mandate, with innovative programming to reflect the changing needs of Canadians.

As chair of the foundation, Mr. Lawson has seen the charity’s assets grow from $23 million in 1984 to $62 million today. Since 1985 it has distributed about $85 million in support of learning and physical disabilities, counselling, youth employment centres, programs for encouraging educational development of disadvantaged urban youth and for the mentoring of rural youth.

At Memorial, Counselling Foundation initiatives include the Canadian Journal of Career Development, Tri-Mentoring and the Hi-Tech Career Centre.

In late 2015 he turned over the chair of the foundation to his eldest son, Douglas, and was given the title of chairman emeritus.

Mr. Lawson also has a 70-year association with the YMCA of Metropolitan Toronto. However, his involvement became much deeper when, in 1968, he was recruited to join the board and assume the role of chairman.

He helped articulate a vision of what a renewed Y could mean to the community, the human and physical infrastructure investments required and personally raised millions of dollars over the span of more than a decade, in what was then the largest capital campaign in the history of Canada.

In recognition of his service to the YMCA, in 1989 he was awarded the Canadian YMCA Fellowship of Honour Citation by the Governor General of Canada.

Mr. Lawson has been active in a number of other organizations, including Victoria University at the University of Toronto, the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counselling, the United Church of Canada and Lawrence Park Community Church.

He has been recognized with honorary degrees from Victoria University and Dalhousie University; the Arbor Award for outstanding service by the University of Toronto; and the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

For his contribution to the improvement of education and the response of youth to education, Donald Lawson will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree on Thursday, June 1, during the 10 a.m. session of convocation in St. John’s.

Marilyn Churley

Marilyn ChurleyA native of Old Perlican, N.L., Marilyn Churley is well known as a leader in promoting equal rights for women, advocating for equal pay for equal work and helping to create services to assist victims of sexual and physical violence.

Ms. Churley grew up in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, and has lived in Toronto since 1979.

A former Toronto city councillor, Ms. Churley was first elected to the Ontario provincial legislature in 1990 and re-elected in 1995, 1999 and 2003 by some of the widest margins in the province.

She also served as the first female minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations and was the first female deputy speaker in the Ontario Legislature. She served for several years as the deputy leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party.

As one of Ontario’s most prominent environmentalists, Ms. Churley was at the forefront of a number of key environmental issues, including Ontario’s Safe Drinking Water Act, which was designed to prevent tainted water tragedies in the wake of the 2000 Walkerton E.-coli disaster that killed seven people, and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto and throughout Ontario. She also co-founded Citizens For A Safe Environment, a group dedicated to cleaning up polluting industries in her neighbourhood.

She also worked for more than a decade with Equal Voice, a national organization dedicated to encouraging and helping women to run for public office.

An effective and passionate champion in the effort to reform adoption disclosure laws in Ontario, Ms. Churley introduced five private members bills in the legislature over a number of years. In 2005 she celebrated victory when the Liberal government passed legislation based on those bills.

Before being elected to public office, she was the executive director of Environmental Defence Canada (formally known as the Canadian Environmental Defence Fund), a director of the Co-op Housing Federation of Toronto and co-founder of the Bain Avenue Day Care Centre.

Ms. Churley stepped down as MPP in 2005 and started her own consulting firm. At around that time, she began to write a book about her personal and political experience with adoption. The book, titled Shameless: The Fight for Adoption Disclosure and the Search for my Son, was published by Between the Lines in 2015. It was shortlisted for the prestigious Ontario Speakers Book Award in 2016.

She has received several awards and honours, including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal and is featured in an Ontario Legislative Building exhibit titled Remarkable Assembly: Women at Queen’s Park.

In 2009 Ms. Churley was appointed to the bench as an Ontario Justice of Peace, where she presides over both criminal and provincial matters.

For her longstanding commitment to remedying social and environmental ills and for her role as a model for women in politics, Marilyn Churley will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree on Friday, June 2, during the 10 a.m. session of convocation in St. John’s.

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