Honorary degree recipients set to inspire

(Edmonton)The University of Alberta will honour 12 inspiring individuals with honorary degrees this June.

“Each of these honorary degree recipients inspires us with their dedication to excellence in learning, discovery and citizenship, here at home and across the globe,” said Chancellor Linda Hughes.

The following 12 recipients of the university’s highest honour will deliver addresses during convocation ceremonies at Augustana Campus in Camrose on June 5 and in Edmonton June 7 to 15.

Craig Kielburger, founder of international children’s charity Free the Children and co-founder of Me to We, a social enterprise which is designed to help support Free the Children, is a leading Canadian children’s rights activist who empowers young people in the developed world to make a difference. One of the youngest recipients of the Order of Canada, he will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 2:30 p.m. on June 5 during centenary celebrations at the U of A’s Augustana Campus in Camrose.

Ron Triffo was instrumental in transforming Stantec Inc. from a private regional civil engineering firm to one of North America’s largest public multi-disciplined engineering and architectural design firms. He is chair of Alberta Innovates – Technology Futures and a past chair of the Alberta Economic Development Authority and ATB Financial. A founding director of the Consulting Engineers of Alberta and a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, he will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 3 p.m. on June 7 at the U of A’s North Campus convocation ceremony.

Palagummi Sainath is a writer and journalist who has been described by Nobel laureate Amartya Sen as “one of the world’s great experts on famine and hunger.” His stories and photographs have brought the world’s attention to issues of poverty and injustice. Rural affairs editor of The Hindu since 2004, he has trained journalists in the poorest regions of India’s countryside. A recipient of more than 35 national and international awards including the 2007 Ramon Magsaysay prize, he will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree at 3 p.m. on June 8.

Joe Schlesinger, a veteran foreign correspondent and one of Canada’s finest television journalists, is a compassionate and articulate chronicler of the human condition. Respected for work that elevated pure journalism to an art form, he is the recipient of many awards including three Gemini Awards, 18 Gemini nominations and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Journalism Foundation. A member of the Order of Canada, he will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree at 10 a.m. on June 8.

Louise Hayes is an influential agent of change committed to a brighter future for Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. She contributed to the creation of the first housing support programs in rural and remote communities, and assisted in the development of the Native Council of Canada. A community builder who has served on many volunteer boards including Big Brothers, Big Sisters, she currently chairs the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation. She will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 10 a.m. on June 9.

Greg Mortenson, co-author of #1 New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea and co-founder of the non-profit Central Asia Institute, is a champion for improved access to education. His work to establish more than 170 schools in rural regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, serving more than 78,000 children, including 52,000 girls, has earned him the Sitara-e-Pakistan, the country's highest civilian honour. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 3 p.m. on June 9.

Austin Mardon is an inspiring advocate for the mentally ill. A scholar and Antarctic explorer diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1992, he has worked tirelessly to eliminate the stigma associated with psychiatric disorders. As a member of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, his work has had a major impact on public policy and public perception. He is a member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the CM Hincks Award, the highest award given by the Canadian Mental Health Association. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 10 a.m. on June 10.

Bunny Ferguson has transformed public conversations around family business and social innovation. Founding chair of the Alberta Business Family Institute, founding director of the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and director of the Norlien Foundation, she is a tireless advocate for community-university engagement, health care excellence and educational leadership. A member of the Order of Canada, she will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 3 p.m. on June 13.

John Chin Sun Lau led one of the most impressive turnarounds in Canadian business history. Under his leadership, Husky Energy Inc. grew from a market value of $350 million in 1993 to $26 billion in 2008, earning him recognition on Harvard Business Review’s list of the Top 50 Best-Performing CEO’s in the world. Named an honorary chief by four First Nations communities, he is a champion of economic development, community wellness and education. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 10 a.m. on June 14.

Karen Luker is a nursing scholar whose pioneering research on cancer survivorship has led to the design of new services to support people affected by cancer. She also initiated groundbreaking work developing training programs for lay health workers in South Africa. Dean of the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at the University of Manchester, she is recognized around the world as a pioneer in advancing academic nursing. She will receive an honorary doctor of science degree at 3 p.m. on June 14.

Charlie Kakotok Evalik champions a transformative vision for Canada’s North. A central contributor to the settlement of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement and the creation of the new territory of Nunavut, he is President of the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and Chair and CEO of the Nunavut Resources Corporation. He is a strong advocate for leadership roles for Inuit as decision-makers in development that respects both the land and its people. He will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at 10 a.m. on June 15.

Efim Zelmanov is one of only 48 individuals honoured with a Fields Medal, considered to be the Nobel Prize of mathematics. A professor of mathematics at the University of California, San Diego, he is considered one of the great algebraists of the 20th century. A member of the U. S. National Academy of Sciences and editor of several major mathematical journals, he is an inspiring researcher, teacher and mentor. He will receive an honorary doctor of science at 3 p.m. on June 15.