Acadia University to grant five Honorary Degrees during Convocation 2017


Individuals chosen combine compassion and philanthropy with strong record of leadership in scientific discovery, education and social change

Wolfville, NS, May 5, 2017 — Acadia University will confer five Honorary Degrees during its 2017 Convocation Ceremonies on May 14 and 15, 2017. Alongside approximately 800 graduates who will receive undergraduate and graduate diplomas, including the first two graduates in Acadia’s history to be awarded a PhD, the following eminent individuals have been chosen to join Acadia’s Class of 2017 because of their lifetime commitment to academic, social, and scientific achievement: Dr. Conville Brown (’79); Sandra Irving (’74); Maureen McTeer; Rick Tobias (’76, ’81); and Dr. Robert Walker (’73).  

"The tradition within Acadia’s Senate is to select individuals for honorary degrees who reflect the ideals we instill in our students,” says Ray Ivany, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “Each honorary degree recipient has made a significant contribution within his or her chosen career discipline, but, without exception, they have also reached beyond to positively impact their community. We encourage our students to accept leadership responsibilities so they can enjoy a lifetime of giving back to the people and places that have contributed to their success. Members of our 2017 honorary degree class are wonderful role models for our newest alumni and it is our sincere honour to feature their names alongside the distinguished individuals we have recognized in the past for their leadership and vision.”

2017 Honorary Degree Recipients:

Doctor of Science Dr. Conville Brown, Nassau, Bahamas - has devoted his life to the good health, welfare and service of others. He is a noted philanthropist and a man of many firsts in his profession and sphere of influence. He is considered a pioneer in the field of cardiology in the Bahamas and the Caribbean and was the first Bahamian and third Caribbean cardiologist inducted into the American College and European Society. He has developed many medical enterprises that practice his signature partnered care model, which assures access to all for advanced services, irrespective of the ability to pay, be they public or private, insured or not, rich or poor.Special awards include Bahamas’ Legend in the Field of Medicine, Jones Communications Network’s Civil Society Person of The Year, The Bahamas’ Icon Award for Health, and he has been honored by The Caribbean Cardiac Society for his contributions to medicine.


Doctor of Humanities Sandra Irving, Saint John, New Brunswick – a steadfast and hard-working advocate for students, scholarly excellence and building a better world. Sandra most likes to help students in the realization of their dreams.  Together with her husband Arthur Irving, they support scholarships at Acadia University and other Canadian and US universities.  She is a strong supporter of research. In her work with the President's Advisory Council of the Royal Society of Canada she upheld research and teaching by our country's leading scholars as the important foundation on which our country is built and as the knowledge base for finding answers to important questions.  She is committed to medical education and helps support research in cardiology, neurology and cancer care. She also worked closely with Arthur in the establishment of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University. Over Arthur Irving's fourteen-year term as Chancellor of Acadia University, together, they supported many student initiatives. This work continues today at Acadia with student scholarship support in Environmental Science.  Sandra likes to encourage students to do their best and inspire them to give back in helping others someday. Sandra earned a Bachelor of Arts with distinction from the University of New Brunswick in Saint John and a Master of Arts from the University of Toronto. Sandra and Arthur were instrumental in establishing RSC:  The Academies of Arts, Humanities, and Sciences of Canada (Atlantic) to foster stronger connections between outstanding scholars and universities in our region and to bring greater recognition of our Atlantic Canada University’s scholars.  In recognition of her public service in the fields of education and health,  she has been awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal, was made Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Saint John, and in 2015 was named a member of the Order of Canada.


Doctor of Civil Laws Maureen McTeer, Ottawa - is a distinguished Canadian lawyer and author who is currently an adjunct professor of law at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development. For four decades, Ms. McTeer has been a leading advocate for, and symbol of, gender equality in Canada, and has been an influential role model for other women in Canada and abroad. Her interests and engagement span a wide range of challenging social, legal and ethical issues, and her goal is to bring citizens into the discussion and debate on all the major issues that will shape our future. Ms. McTeer has received several honours including: The Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons case; the Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals; honorary degrees from the University of Sheffield, Carleton University, and the University of Athabasca; and the DIVA Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women’s Health and Well-Being.


Doctor of Divinity Rick Tobias, Toronto - has been a strong advocate and supporter of low-income and marginalized people for more than 35 years. He has encouraged and inspired people living in poverty to recognize their worth and to realize their potential while challenging church communities, business and professional leaders, and elected officials to understand their roles in responding to human need. Rick has been in ministry since 1973 and provided leadership to churches and organizations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Chicago, and Toronto. In 1983, he became the Director of the Evergreen branch of Toronto’s Yonge Street Mission (YSM) to work with street-involved youth, demonstrating love, peace and justice to people living with economic, social and spiritual poverty. Rick was later appointed Executive Director of YSM. He completed his role as CEO in 2012 and since then has served as the Community Advocate for the Mission. He holds honorary doctorates from McMaster University and York University.


Doctor of Science Dr. Robert Walker, Ottawa - has had a distinguished career in public service in various leadership roles, both domestic and international. Prior to his retirement, he was with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, first as Senior Vice-President Nuclear Laboratories and as President and Chief Executive Officer. Before that, he was for 33 years a scientist, manager and executive with the research and development arm of the Department of National Defence. Dr. Walker also served as Chair of the NATO Research and Technology Board, the senior oversight body for cooperative research within NATO. He is presently Chair of the Board for the Network of Centres of Excellence in Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response hosted by Dalhousie University, a member of the Council of Advisors of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, and a director and past Chair of the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club. He has honorary doctorates from McMaster University and the Royal Military College of Canada.


In addition to the awarding of honorary degrees, Acadia’s 2017 Convocation will be notable in two important ways. It will mark the final Convocation for 15th President and Vice-Chancellor Ray Ivany, who will retire at the end of June 2017. It will also be the first Convocation in which a student will be awarded a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Educational Studies, offered jointly by Acadia, MSVU, and StFX.

Acadia Chancellor Dr. Libby Burnham (’60) will preside over her seventh Convocation and each of the three ceremonies will be live-streamed on Acadia’s Convocation website. All ceremonies during the two days of Convocation will be held in Convocation Hall and include:

Baccalaureate Service

Sunday, May 14, 2017 - 10:30 a.m.

Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Arts

Sunday, May 14, 2017 - 3 p.m.

Faculty of Pure and Applied Science

Monday, May 15, 2017 - 10 a.m.

Faculty of Professional Studies

Monday, May 15, 2017 - 2:30 p.m.

To learn more about Honorary Degree recipients, the Convocation program or to watch a live-streaming webcast of each Convocation ceremony, visit the Convocation website.


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