Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

December 10, 2004

U of G professors receive Order of Canada

Governor General Adrienne Clarkson named two University of Guelph professors members of the Order of Canada today at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. The Order of Canada is considered the country’s highest honour for lifetime achievement.

Biomedical scientist Parvathi Basrur and English professor and writer Thomas King are among 42 Canadians who received membership insignias today. The Order of Canada was established in 1967 to recognize outstanding achievement and service. Appointments are made on the recommendation of an advisory council chaired by the Chief Justice of Canada, and the governor general is the Chancellor and Principal Companion of the Order.

Basrur is a world-recognized and highly respected authority on veterinary genetics and its application in livestock production. She became the first female professor to join a Canadian veterinary college when she was appointed to U of G’s Ontario Veterinary College in 1959. She officially retired from the Department of Biomedical Sciences in 1995 but has continued her teaching and studies as a University professor emerita.

She has received nearly $2 million in research grants over the years and written about 200 scientific papers, book chapters and a textbook. She chaired the biomedical sciences graduate program for more than a decade and supervised 45 graduate students. She has represented the University and Canada on international projects that have improved global food production and has lectured at universities and organizations around the world.

Born in Kerala, India, Basrur received a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in genetics from the University of Mysore. She moved to Toronto in 1955 and earned a PhD from the University of Toronto. She married Vasanth Basrur in 1956. Their daughter, Sheela, is Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

Basrur’s contributions to science have been recognized with numerous honours, including being featured on the TV series Canadian Women in Science and being the first female board member of the Canadian Executive Services Organization.

She won a Most Inspiring Teacher Award from the Students of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association; she was the first woman to receive the Norden Award for Teaching Excellence, and she received the top teaching award from the OVC class of 2005. In 2003, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph-Wellington.

King is one of Canada’s best-known and most highly respected authors. In May, he won Ontario’s premier prize for literary excellence, the Trillium Book Award. King’s book The Truth About Stories, published from his 2003 Canada Massey Lectures, won over five other books nominated for the prestigious prize in the English-language category.

King’s Massey Lectures, titled “The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative,” were presented in fall 2003 over nine days in five provinces. They were recorded and broadcast on the CBC Radio program Ideas.

In the lectures and book, King looks at the breadth and depth of native experience and imagination and North America's relationship with its Aboriginal Peoples. He uses personal anecdotes, autobiographical experiences and academic research to explore topics such as literature, history, religion, politics, popular culture and social protest.

King has written four best-selling novels and numerous television scripts. He has been short-listed twice for the Governor General's Award, won the Canadian Authors' Award for fiction, won the American Indian Film Festival Best Screenplay Award for Medicine River, and won the Aboriginal Media Arts Radio Award for Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour, a popular CBC Radio show he created and starred in. In January 2003, he received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for arts and culture.

King, who received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Chico State University and a PhD from the University of Utah, joined U of G in 1995.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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