Acadia Convocation celebrates achievement

Outstanding accomplishments, commitment to community link honorary degree recipients with grad class

Acadia University awarded approximately 750 degrees during Spring Convocation May 12 and 13 at Convocation Hall in Wolfville. Students graduated from the Faculties of Arts, Professional Studies, Pure and Applied Science, and Theology.

During the ceremonies, Acadia also granted honorary degrees to five individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their communities and beyond. They are: Rev. Dr. Pierre Michel Allard, Dr. Thomas H. Raddall, Harry Kenneth Thurston, Dr. Elsie Josephine Charles Basque, and Abigail Hoffman.

"Convocation exemplifies the unique experience that small schools such as Acadia provide,” said University President Ray Ivany. “It is at once an acknowledgement of the considerable effort expended by our students to chart their individual courses through to graduation, and celebrates also their ability to then carry on and make their mark in the world as engaged citizens and community leaders. Similarly, our distinguished honorary degree recipients embody these characteristics and it is both an honour and a pleasure to have them join us for this year’s Convocation ceremonies.”

Acadia Chancellor Libby Burnham (’60) presided over her third Convocation. Three Convocation ceremonies followed the Baccalaureate Service at 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 12 in Convocation Hall. Each of the Convocation ceremonies were live-streamed on Acadia’s Alumni Affairs Web site. Following each Convocation ceremony, participants and their guests were invited to join the Acadia community in the Sheldon L. Fountain Learning Commons for a reception.

Conferring of Honorary Degrees

Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Arts
Sunday, May 12, 2013 - 3 p.m.

Rev. Dr. Pierre Michel Allard, Doctor of Divinity
AllardThe Rev. Dr. Pierre Michel Allard was awarded a Doctor of Divinity. He served for a decade as chaplain at Dorchester Penitentiary and as regional chaplain for the Atlantic region. With his wife Judith, Dr. Allard has focused his work on ministering to offenders as well as to their families, victims, and communities. He has been a pioneer in the restorative justice movement and, along with the late Dr. Charlie Taylor, a founder of community chaplaincy in Canada. After retiring in 2006, he and his wife founded a charitable organization, Just.Equipping, committed to educating, training and equipping prison chaplains worldwide in the area of restorative justice, with a particular focus in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Faculty of Pure and Applied Science
Monday, May 13, 2013 - 10 a.m.

Dr. Thomas H. Raddall II, Doctor of Science
RaddallA dedicated and staunch supporter of Acadia University, Dr. Tom Raddall ('57) received a Doctor of Science. His lifelong dedication to his community of Liverpool, to the practice of dental health in Nova Scotia, to Acadia as a member of the Board of Governors from 2001 to 2013, and to the literary life of the Atlantic region is remarkable and commendable. In 1996, Dr. Raddall donated the funds to build the Thomas Raddall Research Centre as an adjunct to the Perkins Museum in Liverpool. The centre, built as a memorial to his father, an author, houses the genealogical and historical records and archives for Queens County. In 2003-04, he was named Governor of the Year at Acadia and became the first recipient of this award from the Acadia Students’ Union.

Mr. Harry Thurston, Doctor of Literature
ThurstonA prolific author and dedicated environmentalist, Harry Thurston ('71) was awarded a Doctor of Literature. He has published more than 20 books of poetry and non-fiction and been a contributor to numerous North American magazines specializing in environmental issues and natural history. He is a four-time winner of the Evelyn Richardson Prize for the best non-fiction book by a Nova Scotian and has also received the Dartmouth Book Award and Atlantic Booksellers’ Choice Award for Tidal Life, A Natural History of the Bay of Fundy. A Place Between the Tides, A Naturalist’s Reflections on the Salt Marsh, was a finalist for the Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize and winner of the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award in the U.S. His last book, The Atlantic Coast, A Natural History, received the 2011 Lane Anderson Award for best science book in Canada.

Faculty of Professional Studies
Monday, May 13, 2013 - 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Elsie Josephine Charles Basque, EdD, PdD, C.M., Doctor of Humanities
Charles BasqueA Mi’kmaq woman, mother, Elder and teacher, Dr. Elsie Charles Basque was awarded a Doctor of Humanities. She was born in 1916 and was the first Mi’kmaq in Nova Scotia to hold a teacher’s license and the first Mi’kmaq to teach in a non-native school. She spent most of her life in Boston, MA, lecturing on native issues, Mi’kmaq culture and the status of American native people. A Saulnierville resident, Dr. Charles Basque has received two honorary doctorate degrees of education and is a member of the Order of Canada (C.M.). Dr. Charles Basque received the honorary doctorate at a ceremony in Yarmouth on May 6th.

Ms. Abigail Hoffman, Doctor of Civil Laws
HoffmanA former Canadian track-and-field athlete and lifelong sports and fitness advocate, Ms. Abigail Hoffman received a Doctor of Civil Laws. She has represented Canada on the world stage in four Olympic and Pan-American Games, two Commonwealth Games and was Canada’s flag-bearer at the 1976 Games in Montreal.  She is a multiple Commonwealth and Pan American Games gold medalist and was later the first woman Director General of Sport Canada, the federal government sports agency. She was also the first Canadian female elected to the executive committee of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and has been a Council member of the International Association of Athletics Federations since 1995.  In these roles she has been a tireless campaigner for the advancement of girls and women in sport and for athletes' rights, as well as for the eradication of doping and racism in sport.  An Officer of the Order of Canada and member of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, Hoffman is currently Assistant Deputy Minister of the Strategic Policy Branch at Health Canada, where she is responsible among other things for the development of federal health care policy.  

For details about Convocation Weekend, visit our Convocation Web site.

About Acadia University
Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, has long been recognized as one of Canada's premier post-secondary institutions. With its nationally and internationally recognized undergraduate and graduate research initiatives, small classes, and technology-rich teaching and learning environment, Acadia offers students an experience that includes academic achievement combined with personal growth and development. Acadia also offers distance learning, certificate programs, language training and other university extension programs through Open Acadia. For more information about Acadia University, visit our website at


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