UVic to award five honorary degrees in Spring 2013

Five individuals with exceptional records of distinction in public service, research and teaching will accept honorary degrees at Spring Convocation ceremonies. Drawing from nominations received from the university community, the UVic Senate selects honorary degree recipients on the basis of their accomplishments in community, national or international service. Podcasts of the acceptance remarks of honorary degree recipients will be available following the ceremonies at www.communications.uvic.ca/podcasting/convocation.

The university has conferred honorary degrees each year since 1964 based on nominations submitted to the UVic Senate from members of the university community. Past recipients include Prince Philip, Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin and Coast Salish artist Susan Point.

This spring’s honorands are:

Mr. Nazmudin (Naz) G. Rayani, Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD)
Presented at 2:30 p.m., Monday, June 10

Naz Rayani is a Victoria pharmacist and community leader whose infectious generosity of spirit—rooted in the Ismaili Muslim faith—has created a legacy of service, cross-cultural understanding and tolerance.

From 1995 to 2010 he was convenor and co-convenor of the annual World Partnership Walk in Victoria, an initiative of the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada. The walk takes place in 10 cities and is Canada’s largest annual event for increasing awareness and raising funds to fight global poverty. Rayani personally raises substantial donations for each year’s walk while inspiring his children, grandchildren and friends to share in the effort.

Rayani has worked tirelessly to break down barriers among people of different faiths. Since the events of Sept. 11, 2001 he has conducted regular tours of the Ismaili Jamatkhana and Centre (Mosque) in Burnaby to encourage understanding and the acceptance of others. More than 2,000 Victorian’s have taken the tour.

A former member of the advisory council of the UVic Centre for Studies in Religion and Society, Rayani founded the centre’s Muslim Library Resources Fund, which annually acquires new resources on Islamic studies for the UVic Library. He has also been a key figure in fundraising for the centre’s endowed Distinguished Lecture Series in Islam.

Prof. Peter MacKinnon, Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD)
Presented at 10 a.m., Tuesday, June 11

During his tenure as the eighth president of the University of Saskatchewan, from 1999 to 2012, Prof. Peter MacKinnon advanced his university’s competitive position while advocating for Canada’s major science facilities.

Two facilities established during MacKinnon’s tenure put the University of Saskatchewan on the map for major research initiatives in Canada. The International Vaccine Centre (InterVac) provides state-of-the-art facilities for disease research while the Canadian Light Source (or synchrotron) hosts the study of the microstructure and chemical properties of materials.

Along with colleagues from across Canada, MacKinnon’s promotion of “big science” (such as the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory and the UVic-based Ocean Networks Canada) helped lead to Industry Canada’s Major Science Initiatives program, providing $185 million in funding over five years.

MacKinnon was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012 and received the inaugural Prime Minister of Canada Fellowship last September. He was a member of the federal Science, Technology and Innovation Council from 2007-2012, overseeing (with McGill Principal Heather Munroe Blum) the preparation of council’s State of the Nations reports.

Hon. Peter Milliken, Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD)
Presented at 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 12

The Honorable Peter Milliken holds the distinction of being the longest-serving Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons, serving from 2001 until his retirement in 2011. An expert in parliamentary procedure, he was especially adept at dealing with the partisanship of six years of minority governments while bringing a sense of civility to a deeply divided Commons.

He made landmark rulings—on the release of government documents related to Afghan detainees, cost estimates related to crime legislation and fighter jet purchases—that set precedents for Parliament’s right to information. He was also called upon to break tie votes on five separate occasions (in all, there have been only 10 tie votes since Confederation).

Milliken was first elected to Parliament in 1988 in the Ontario riding of Kingston and the Islands, a seat he held for the Liberals in six subsequent elections.

Ms. Sharon McIvor, Honorary Doctor of Laws (LLD)
Presented at 10 a.m., Thursday, June 13

A member of the Lower Nicola First Nation, Sharon McIvor is a lawyer and activist who for nearly three decades has been a champion of individual dignity and rights, particularly those of Aboriginal women and children.

In the case of McIvor v. Canada, she challenged provisions of the Indian Act on the basis of gender bias. The resulting “McIvor Amendments” were enacted by Parliament in 2010. The legislative reforms meant 45,000 Aboriginal women and their descendants became eligible for Indian status. She continues to fight for the removal of all gender discrimination from the Indian Act.

McIvor has been a leader in the Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action and, in collaboration with the Native Women’s Association of Canada, she has been instrumental in bringing the hundreds of murders and disappearances of Aboriginal women and girls to the attention of international human rights bodies.

In her teaching, she has designed and instructed courses in Indigenous studies at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, passing on her expertise, practical wisdom and sense of justice to the next generation of Aboriginal students.

Dr. Adel Sedra, Honorary Doctor of Science (DSc)
Presented at 2:30 p.m., Thursday, June 13

Dr. Adel Sedra is a gifted scholar, teacher, university administrator, and advocate for engineering research and education. He co-authored Microelectronic Circuits, the best-selling engineering textbook in history, with more than a million copies in print in more than 10 languages. It's considered the standard for teaching circuitry in electrical engineering and is used by an estimated eight out of 10 students learning microelectronics worldwide.

Sedra entered Cairo University in his native Egypt at the age of 15. He moved to Canada in 1964 to complete his PhD at the University of Toronto where he would later serve as a professor, department chair, and vice-president academic, provost and chief academic officer.

Sedra was dean of engineering at the University of Waterloo from 2003-12 and played a critical role in establishing the first overseas Canadian university campus offering multiple undergraduate programs: the University of Waterloo’s United Arab Emirates campus.

Sedra has supervised more than 60 graduate students, most of whom have taken senior academic and industry positions in microelectronics. He is the holder of three patents, author of more than 60 refereed journal papers and the co-author of three books.

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Keywords: convocation, award

People: Nazmudin (Naz) G. Rayani, Peter MacKinnon, Peter Milliken, Sharon McIvor, Adel Sedra

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