Distinguished alumni


Art History grad Glynis Leyshon is one of Canada's top stage directors


Giller Prize winning author Esi Edugyan (right) with Michael Ondaatje


Mexican-Canadian artistic director and cinematographer Mercedes Bátiz-Benét


Victoria Symphony principal tubist Paul Beauchesne

Outstanding talent

As part of UVic’s annual Alumni Week celebrations, each year Fine Arts honours one past graduate notable either for a significant artistic achievement or an outstanding career in the arts. These Distinguished Alumni run the gamut from artists and writers to directors, designers, filmmakers and musicians, and represent only a handful of our past students.

In addition to accepting their award at the annual awards night, these distinguished alumni often come back to the campus to speak to current students about the realities of an artistic life, and what made them so successful.

Courage, discipline & tenacity

“Personally and professionally, it means the world to be named one of this year’s Distinguished Alumni. I am deeply honoured,” says Mexican-born 2015 distinguished alumni Mercedes Bátiz-Benét. “There were so many people who told me I wouldn’t last a semester at UVic and in Canada, that I would never be able to do a writing degree in another language, that I had no business doing so and that I wouldn’t have the courage, discipline, and tenacity to endure a life in the arts.”

“And when I think of the girl I was on my first day of university—frightened, overwhelmed, alone, and completely out of place—I don’t know why I didn’t believe all of that myself. But receiving this award has given me the opportunity to look back and realize how much and how hard I’ve worked to be where I am today, of how privileged I am to have an academic background in the arts and in philosophy, and to have a life, a fulfilling career and job in the arts.”

Read more about our distinguished alumni here: