Four to Receive Honorary Degrees at Winter Convocation

February 09, 2009 - News Release

The University of Guelph will award more than 1,200 degrees and diplomas during five winter convocation ceremonies February 17 and 18 in War Memorial Hall.

Honorary doctorate of law degrees will be presented to U of G chancellor emeritus Lincoln Alexander, hydrogeologist Frank Rovers, Arctic Council founder and aboriginal advocate Mary Simon, and agricultural advocate Jack Wilkinson. In addition, Guelph lawyer and a former U of G Board of Governors member Robin-Lee Norris will be named an Honorary Fellow of the University.

Winter convocation begins Tuesday at 10 a.m. with a ceremony for the College of Arts, where Simon will address the graduands. She was the first Canadian ambassador for circumpolar affairs at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, establishing the eight-country council now known as the Arctic Council. A former chancellor of Trent University, she has received many honours for her leadership, including the Order of Canada, Gold Order of Greenland, and National Aboriginal Achievement Award.

A ceremony for the College of Biological Science will be held at 2:30 p.m. with Rovers delivering the convocation address. An internationally respected hydrogeologist, he founded the Waterloo-based engineering firm Conestoga-Rovers and Associates in 1976. The company is known as a leader in identifying solutions for waste-related environmental issues. It employs more than 2,300 people in 65 offices around the world and provides a broad base of environmental services to many Fortune 500 companies.

At the 7 p.m. ceremony for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, Norris will address the graduands. A longtime ambassador for U of G, Norris served as vice-president of U of G's Alumni Association, was on B of G for seven years and is a member of the Board of Trustees. Among other things, she provided leadership for the 2002 capital fundraising campaign and chaired the Arboretum Master Plan Steering Committee.

On Wednesday, a 10 a.m. ceremony will be held for the College of Management and Economics. Wilkinson will give the convocation address. A practising farmer, he is a former president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers, the top agricultural lobbying position in the world. He was also president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture and has served on numerous international, national and provincial committees.

Alexander will speak at a 2:30 p.m. ceremony for the College of Physical and Engineering Science, the Ontario Agricultural College, the Faculty of Environmental Sciences, and the Ontario Veterinary College. Alexander’s life is often described as one of exemplary firsts. Among them, he was the first person in his family to attend university, Canada’s first black member of Parliament, the first black chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board, the first visible minority to hold the post of Ontario lieutenant-governor, and the first person to serve five terms as U of G’s chancellor. Three U of G awards carry his name.

For more information, contact Chris Bauch at 519-824-4120 Ext. 53079, For media questions, call Barry Gunn at Ext. 56982,, or Lori Bona Hunt at Ext. 53338,

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