Acadia University honours former Prime Minister and province’s top doctors at Virtual Convocation

The Right Honourable Paul Martin

Celebrating leadership in all its forms, Acadia honours public health leaders and researchers, Indigenous rights advocates, politicians, patrons, educators, corporate captains, an Olympic gold medalist, and theologians with doctorates.

Originally posted April 21, 2021

When soon-to-be graduating students visit Acadia University’s Convocation website, one of the featured guests to address them will be former Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Paul Martin.  

Martin, who served as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2006, is one of seven people receiving Honorary Doctorates from the Wolfville, Nova Scotia, university during its 2021 Spring Convocation. He will deliver the keynote address at the virtual ceremony.  

“At Acadia, students are taught to innovate, create, and master any storm,” said Martin. “It will be today’s graduates’ ability to work together, in community, that will help lead us through the challenges ahead.”  

As Prime Minister, Martin succeeded in establishing plans to improve healthcare, reduce wait times, and nationalize early learning and childcare programs. He also reached an historic consensus to cut funding gaps in health, education, housing, and clean water for Indigenous people. As Finance Minister, Martin erased Canada’s deficit and recorded five consecutive budget surpluses while paying down the national debt. He was also influential in the development of Canada’s research and innovation agenda.  

In 2008, he and his family founded the Martin Family Initiative, a charitable organization committed to improving education, health and the overall well-being of Indigenous children and youth in Canada.

“Acadia’s honorary degree recipients are excellent role models for our graduates. Each one is a distinguished individual who has made a significant impact in their community,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “By recognizing their outstanding achievements with honorary degrees, we acknowledge them for their many contributions to society. Like them, we know our graduates will take their place in the world and make a difference.”

Joining Martin as a recipient of an honorary doctorate for 2021 is recently retired senator and chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Honourable Murray Sinclair. An inspirational leader and advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples, Sinclair is the principal author of the Truth and Reconciliation Report of 2015, whose 93 calls to action provide the direction to reach a better understanding and relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians.

Acadia is also honouring two of Nova Scotia’s leading public health officials who helped Nova Scotia navigate through a global pandemic safely. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health, have showed outstanding leadership during a time of provincial crisis, and through their achievements Acadia is recognizing the amazing work of the entire Nova Scotia Public Health department.  

Patron of the arts and education and recent chair of Acadia University’s most successful fundraising initiative, Campaign for Acadia, Nancy McCain (’82) will receive an honorary degree in recognition of her outstanding lifetime commitment to arts, culture, education and her alma mater, Acadia University.

The University will also award an honorary degree to 2016 Olympic gold medalist (US Men’s Basketball) and Toronto Raptor Kyle Lowry. He rallied the nation when he led Canada’s only NBA franchise to an historic NBA Championship victory in 2019. Lowry and his wife, Ayahna Cornish-Lowry, are committed to improving the lives of the disadvantaged in Toronto and Philadelphia to help them experience a better quality of life. Together, they set up the Lowry Love Foundation, a charity that gives back to community.  

On behalf of the Acadia Divinity College, Acadia University will honour the Rev. Dr. Malcolm Card, a minister and missionary who dedicated his career to helping others abroad and within the Atlantic and Canadian Baptist ministries.

Acadia’s Class of 2021 will be the first group of graduands to have degrees conferred virtually. In 2020, the graduating class opted to wait for an in-person celebration to be held soon, however, this May the University will honour six outstanding individuals with doctorates as part of the Class of 2020.  

Ricketts noted that while disappointed that an in-person celebration is impossible, he hopes the Virtual Convocation experience will provide a meaningful alternative for graduates, their families, and the campus community.  

“It is time to gather, albeit virtually, to celebrate their academic and professional achievements,” he said. “I look forward to being able to celebrate with the Classes of 2021 and 2020 at future events when we are able to gather once again on our beautiful campus in Wolfville.”

Rather than a single live-streamed event, Acadia’s Virtual Convocation will be an online web experience incorporating the formal ceremony and personalized by each of Acadia’s four Faculties – Arts, Pure and Applied Science, Professional Studies, and Theology.  

The virtual main ceremony event will launch on May 9, 2021, at 3 p.m. (ADT) on the Convocation website. Graduands and their friends and families will be able to enjoy their Convocation experience at that time or whenever they choose.

While the online ceremony will include the official conferring of their degrees by Chancellor Bruce Galloway (‘68, ‘03 HON), it will not replace an in-person celebration, which will be planned for a later date when in-person events are considered safe.

Although they will not receive their physical degree parchments on the traditional Convocation stage, shortly after Virtual Convocation, graduates will receive a Convocation mailing that will include their parchment and Convocation program.

The Acadia Bookstore, which plays a significant role in traditional Convocation events – offering Acadia gear to graduates and their families and supplying robe rentals – will have sale items. If desired, graduates can also rent robes to wear at home while watching the online ceremony and posting images to their social media accounts using the hashtag #AcadiaUGrad21.

Acadia University is also gifting graduands free shipping for diploma frames when ordered online.

More information will be sent directly to graduands and updated on the Virtual Convocation website.

Acadia University honours former MP, President Emeritus, and acclaimed researcher, among honorary degree recipients for Class of 2020

In 2020, the graduating class at Acadia University opted to wait for an in-person celebration to be held when possible. However, this May the University will honour six outstanding individuals with doctorates as part of the Class of 2020.

Honorary doctorates for 2020 are:

  • The Honourable Scott Brison, P.C., powerhouse former cabinet minister and long-time Kings-Hants MP, named a “young global leader” by the World Economic Forum, now a banking executive and economic recovery chair for Nova Scotia and Chancellor of Dalhousie University;
  • Higher education leader and advocate and author of the Nova Scotia Ivany Report, former Acadia leader, President Emeritus Ray Ivany;
  • Water resource engineering pioneer and educator considered the grandfather of hydrogeology, Terry Hennigar (’65);
  • Nova Scotia Business Hall of Famer, lawyer, businessperson, community leader and volunteer, R. Diane Campbell (’64);
  • Canadian and global Christian leader and renowned conference speaker, the Rev. Dr. Gary V. Nelson, and;  
  • Internationally acclaimed stem cell researcher, teacher, and advocate for women in science, Dr. Connie Eaves.

“While I look forward to celebrating the Class of 2020 at a ceremony at a later time, it is important that Acadia recognize the honorary degree recipients for 2020 at this time,” said Dr. Peter Ricketts, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “A number of them have particularly close ties to the Class of 2020, and each of these accomplished individuals are incredible role models for our graduates on how to make a real difference in the world.”

Acadia will launch a Class of 2020 Convocation website on May 9, 2021, to include information and messages from each of the honorary degree recipients and the University community. The graduate list will also be available on the website.  


Media Contact:  

Sherri Turner, Director, University Communications,  

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