Two to Receive Honorary Degrees at Fall Convocation

October 30, 2009 - News Release

Two renowned Canadians - economist Peter Howitt and political scientist Seymour Wilson - will receive honorary degrees during the University of Guelph's fall convocation Nov. 7. Some 200 degrees and diplomas will be awarded during five ceremonies in War Memorial Hall.

Two retired biomedical scientists will also be honoured. University professor emerita Pari Basrur will receive the Medal of Merit, and Prof. John Leatherland will be named University professor emeritus.

Originally from Guelph, Howitt is an accomplished and highly respected macroeconomist who is the Lyn Crost Professor of Social Sciences at Brown University in Rhode Island. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a Fellow of the Econometric Society, he is a former president of the Canadian Economics Association and a former editor of the Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

He was the first economist to demonstrate under general theoretical conditions that a central bank aiming to stabilize the rate of inflation must allow interest rates to respond vigorously to past changes in inflation.

Howitt will receive an honorary doctorate of science and address the graduands at the 2:30 p.m. ceremony for the College of Management and Economics.

Wilson is emeritus professor at Carleton University, where he taught public administration and political science. A former president of the Canadian Political Science Association and former editor of the journal Canadian Public Administration/Administration publique du Canada, he is the author or co-author of six books and 15 commissioned studies.

Besides his academic endeavours, Wilson is a dedicated advocate for the rights of visible minorities and disadvantaged youth. He was a founding member of the Harambee Foundation of Canada, which helps create opportunities for black teenagers and young adults in urban areas. He has also served as an adviser to the Canadian government on equity and employment policies.

Wilson will receive an honorary doctorate of laws and give the convocation address at the 5 p.m. ceremony for the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences.

Basrur, who was the first woman to join the faculty of the Ontario Veterinary College, is being honoured for her outstanding and lasting contributions to the University and her commitment to student development. An internationally recognized scientist, she has received numerous awards for her teaching and research and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2004. In 2003, her lifetime achievements were recognized with a YMCA-YWCA Woman of Distinction Award.

Basrur will receive the Medal of Merit and address graduands at the 8 p.m. ceremony for OVC and the Ontario Agricultural College.

Leatherland, who joined U of G’s Department of Zoology in 1971, was assistant dean of the College of Biological Science from 1991 to 1994 and chaired the Department of Biomedical Sciences from 1994 to 2005. An expert in comparative endocrinology, he founded and edited the international journal Fish Physiology and Biochemistry and received a Sigma Xi Excellence in Research Award. Leatherland will be honoured at the 8 p.m. ceremony.

The ceremony for the colleges of Biological Science and Physical and Engineering Science is at 9 a.m. The College of Arts ceremony is at noon.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, Ext. 53338 or, or Barry Gunn, Ext. 56982 or

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