An Honorary Doctorate is an honour bestowed by the University and is intended to recognize individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the academy and/or society and whose accomplishments, leadership, and/or community service are deemed to be extraordinary and thus worthy of honoris causa – “for the sake of the honour.”

To view the 2017 Honorary Degree Recipients, please click here.

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How are recipients selected?


2017 Recipients

Acadia University to Grant Five Honorary Degrees during Convocation 2017

Individuals chosen combine compassion and philanthropy with strong record of leadership in scientific discovery, education and social change

Acadia University will confer five Honorary Degrees during its 2017 Convocation Ceremonies on May 14 and 15, 2017. Alongside approximately 800 graduates who will receive undergraduate and graduate diplomas, including the first two graduates in Acadia’s history to be awarded a PhD, the following eminent individuals have been chosen to join Acadia’s Class of 2017 because of their lifetime commitment to academic, social, and scientific achievement: Dr. Conville Brown (’79); Sandra Irving (’74); Maureen McTeer; Rick Tobias (’76, ’81); and Dr. Robert Walker (’73). 

"The tradition within Acadia’s Senate is to select individuals for honorary degrees who reflect the ideals we instill in our students,” says Ray Ivany, Acadia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “Each honorary degree recipient has made a significant contribution within his or her chosen career discipline, but, without exception, they have also reached beyond to positively impact their community. We encourage our students to accept leadership responsibilities so they can enjoy a lifetime of giving back to the people and places that have contributed to their success. Members of our 2017 honorary degree class are wonderful role models for our newest alumni and it is our sincere honour to feature their names alongside the distinguished individuals we have recognized in the past for their leadership and vision.”

Conville Brown (MBBS, MD, FACC, FESC)

A renowned cardiologist, medical pioneer and prolific health care developer, Dr. Conville Brown (’79) has devoted his life to the good health, welfare and service of others. A noted philanthropist and man of many firsts in medicine, his affinity and affection for Acadia have served the University well by engaging our alumni community in the Bahamas and adding value and prestige to recruitment conversations with prospective students and their parents.

Dr. Brown attended The Bahamas Government High School, Acadia and Dalhousie Universities in Canada, and the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. After specialty training at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, he returned home as the youngest qualified and certified internist and cardiologist in the Bahamas and Caribbean. Dr. Brown was also the first Bahamian and third Caribbean cardiologist inducted into the American College of Cardiology and the European Society of Cardiology.

Dr. Brown has developed many medical enterprises that practice his signature “partnered care” model, which assures access to advanced services, public or private, to all, irrespective of the ability to pay, insured or not, rich or poor. He founded The Bahamas Heart Centre and, through private and personal investments, introduced colour echocardiography, nuclear cardiology, telemedicine, pacemakers, defibrillators, digital mammography, hemodialysis and numerous other services.

At the invitation of Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer of Antigua and Barbuda, Dr. Brown built the Medical Pavilion Antigua, home to the Cancer Centre Eastern Caribbean for the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States as the OECS's first sub-regional specialist medical centre for cancer and soon home to the Heart Centre Antigua and Imaging Centre Antigua. The Institute for Advanced Medical Procedures will make advanced technologies available to medical tourists years before availability in North America.

Special awards include The Bahamas’ Legend in the Field of Medicine, Jones Communications Network’s Civil Society Person of The Year, and The Bahamas’ Icon Award for Health. Dr. Brown has been honoured also by The Caribbean Cardiac Society for his contributions to medicine.

He is married to Dr. Corrine Sin Quee-Brown and they have three children: Conville Stephan, Corey Samuel and Chelsea Samantha.

Dr. Brown’s commitment to care is embodied in the following motto: “Striving for excellence with a hearty smile while ensuring affordable access for all via partnered care”.

Sandra Irving

Sandra Irving was born in Saint John, New Brunswick.  She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree with Distinction from the University of New Brunswick and a Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Toronto. 

Sandra Irving is a community leader in Atlantic Canada. She and her husband Arthur strongly support education through student scholarships, mentorship and exchange programs. They have created opportunities for students in both Canada and the United States with scholarships at educational institutions, including the University of New Brunswick, Acadia University, St. Thomas University, the University of Toronto and Dartmouth College, and are personally committed to their scholarship students’ success.  They are similarly dedicated to young people's athletic aspirations and support some of our leading New Brunswick athletes.

Sandra’s commitment to country and community is seen in her service to many non-profit, public service organizations – from arts, to health care, and community organizations. She has been a key figure in helping Junior Achievement raise financial support for entrepreneurial business studies, which prepare the next generation for business leadership. She served as a member of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission.  As Chair of the President’s Advisory Council for the Royal Society of Canada: The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences, she highlighted the importance of supporting Canada’s leading scholars and researchers.  She was instrumental in establishing the organization’s Atlantic chapter and is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Sandra is a strong supporter of medical research, and she and her husband Arthur have endowed Chairs in Cardiology and Neurology. She is a cancer survivor and is committed to supporting cancer research in finding a cure.

Sandra plays an important role in supporting the community initiatives of Irving Oil.  Together with her husband Arthur, Chairman of Irving Oil, she was actively involved in the planning and development of the K.C. Irving Environmental Science Centre and the Harriett Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University, a gift from the Irving family.  Together with Irving Oil, Ducks Unlimited and Acadia University, their commitment to research and education led to the development of the Beaubassin Environmental Research Station in Aulac, New Brunswick. At the University of PEI, their support of the Atlantic Veterinary College was recognized at the opening in March 2014 of the Arthur and Sandra Irving Community Care Centre.  At Dartmouth College, Sandra and Arthur Irving have funded scholarships for Canadian students, developed the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving Professor of Economics endowed chair, and help fund undergraduate students in business in partnership with the Tuck School of Business. She worked closely with her husband Arthur and daughter Sarah and with Irving Oil in the establishment of the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society (September 2016). 

In June 2014 Sandra was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of Saint John for her many years of ‘service above self.’  She was presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of her volunteer and public service activities in October 2012 and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2003.  In 2010 she, together with Arthur Irving, was awarded the World Baden-Powell Scout Fellowship for community service.  She is an Honorary Degree recipient from the University of New Brunswick and St. Mary’s University. On July 1, 2015 she was named to the Order of Canada for her outstanding service to her country.

Sandra enjoys music, bicycling, running and mostly spending time with her husband Arthur and daughter Sarah and her dogs. Her many years of continued service and contributions represent a lifelong commitment to the importance of education, helping others and the betterment of society. 

Maureen A. McTeer (BA, MA, LLB, LLM, Health; DLitt, Hon; LLD, Hon)

Maureen McTeer is a distinguished Canadian lawyer and author who is currently an adjunct professor of law at the University of Ottawa and a member of the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development. She earned graduate degrees from the University of Ottawa, (BA, LLB), Dalhousie University (LLM in Health law), and the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom (MA in Biotechnological Law and Ethics).

For four decades, Ms. McTeer has been a leading advocate for, and symbol of, gender equality in Canada, and has been an influential role model for other women in Canada and abroad. Her interests and engagement span a wide range of challenging social, legal and ethical issues, and her goal is to bring citizens into the discussion and debate on all the major issues which will shape our future, from the patenting of human life forms, to IVF and related reproductive technologies, to the public policy implications of genetic research that can identify and now manipulate the human genome before and after birth, and questions of equity and fairness at the beginning and end of our lives.

As an expert on reproductive technologies, genetics and the law, Ms. McTeer has taught and lectured at the Universities of Ottawa, Calgary and British Columbia in Canada, and at the University of California at Berkeley, American University and George Mason University in the United States.

In addition to her ongoing advocacy for women’s equality and health in Canada and abroad, Ms. McTeer has published four best-selling books, including: Residences: Homes of Canada’s Leaders; Parliament: Canada’s Democracy and How it Works”; a personal memoir, In My Own Name; and Tough Choices: Living and Dying in the 21st Century, all of which are also available in French.

Ms. McTeer is an activist in community and volunteer organizations. She served as the co-Chair of the National Experts Commission of the Canadian Nurses Association; is a member of the Global Commission on Pollution, Health and Development; a lay member of the National Council of the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (2008-2011); a member of the Accreditation Committee of Canadian Medical Schools; a mentor for the Trudeau Foundation; as a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Ottawa; a member of the Calgary International Organ Festival; a member of the international White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood; the national Patron of the Canadian Osteoporosis Society; a member of Canada’s Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies; a candidate for election to the House of Commons of Canada; and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Shirley E. Greenberg Women’s Health Centre in Ottawa.

For that volunteer and public advocacy work, she has received several honours including: The Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons case; the Queen’s Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals; honorary degrees from the University of Sheffield in the UK, Carleton University in Ottawa, and the University of Athabasca in Alberta; and the DIVA Award for Outstanding Contributions to Women’s Health and Well-Being, to name a few.

Ms. McTeer is married to the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark. Their daughter Catherine Clark is a national broadcaster, and with her husband Chad Schella has two young children, Alexandra and Charlie. 

Rick Tobias

Rick Tobias has been a strong advocate and supporter of low-income and marginalized people for more than 35 years. He has encouraged and inspired people living in poverty to recognize their worth and to realize their potential while challenging church communities, business and professional leaders, and elected officials to understand their roles in responding to human need.

A native of Saint John, New Brunswick, Rick is a two-time graduate of Acadia University, completing a Bachelor of Arts (’76) and a Master of Divinity (’81). He also graduated from the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education in Chicago.  Rick was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from McMaster University and an Honorary Doctor of Laws from York University. 

Rick has been in ministry since 1973, and has provided leadership to churches and organizations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Chicago, and Toronto. In 1983, he became the Director of the Evergreen branch of Toronto’s Yonge Street Mission (YSM) to work with street-involved youth, demonstrating love, peace and justice to people living with economic, social and spiritual poverty.

Rick brought radical change to established ways of serving those in need. He led Evergreen into greater engagement with donors, neighbours, and community leaders. Due to his leadership and vision, Rick was appointed Executive Director of YSM in 1989. He completed his role as CEO in 2012, and since that time has served as the Community Advocate for the Mission.

A frequent speaker on Canadian poverty, urban ministry, youth-at-risk, and strategies for community-wide change, Rick has appeared often in the media and is sought after as a consultant and coach. His insights and convictions spark commitments in others he meets and in 30 years of teaching at Tyndale University College and Seminary, where he has introduced courses on Urban Ministry, Understanding Poverty in a Canadian Context, and Responding to ‘High Risk’ Youth. 

He has pioneered models for others who seek to serve in a diverse urban context, and his aptitude for communicating faith-based values and vision draws in people of all faiths and with no specific faith. They are moved to act, including business and religious leaders, churchgoers and secular audiences, students and scholars, social service managers, and front-line workers.

Robert S. Walker, PhD, FCAE

Dr. Robert Walker has had a distinguished career in public service in various leadership roles, both domestic and international.

From November 2010 until his retirement in September 2015, Dr. Walker was with Atomic Energy of Canada Limited, a federal Crown Corporation, first as Senior Vice-President Nuclear Laboratories and from October 2011 as the corporation’s President and Chief Executive Officer.  From November 2014, he was concurrently the first President and CEO of AECL’s wholly owned subsidiary, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories.

Prior to joining AECL, Dr. Walker had a career of 33 years as scientist, manager and executive with the research and development arm of the Department of National Defence. From August 2005 until November 2010, he was the Assistant Deputy Minister Science and Technology at DND and the Chief Executive Officer of Defence Research and Development Canada.

From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Walker served as the Chair of the NATO Research and Technology Board, the senior oversight body for cooperative research within the NATO framework. He is presently the Chair of the Board for the Network of Centers of Excellence in Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response (MEOPAR), hosted by Dalhousie University. Dr. Walker is a member of the Council of Advisors of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute and a director and past Chair of the Board of the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club.

Dr. Walker earned a BSc in Physics from Acadia University (’73), an MEng in Engineering Physics and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from McMaster University. He is fondly remembered at Acadia by former faculty in the department as a “dedicated student, and a gentleman.” At his graduation in 1973, he was awarded the Governor General’s Gold Medal.

In 2013, McMaster awarded Dr. Walker an honorary Doctor of Science and in 2015 the Royal Military College of Canada awarded him an honorary Doctor of Engineering. He is a graduate of the National Defence College and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. Dr. Walker is a recipient of the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service and the Canadian Nuclear Association’s 2015 Ian McRae Award of Merit.

In addition to the awarding of honorary degrees, Acadia’s 2017 Convocation will be notable in two important ways. It will mark the final Convocation for 15th President and Vice-Chancellor Ray Ivany, who will retire at the end of June 2017. It will also be the first Convocation in which a student will be awarded a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) in Educational Studies, offered jointly by Acadia, MSVU, and StFX.

Acadia Chancellor Dr. Libby Burnham (’60) will preside over her seventh Convocation and each of the three ceremonies will be live-streamed on Acadia’s Convocation website. All ceremonies during the two days of Convocation will be held in Convocation Hall and include:

Baccalaureate Service

Sunday, May 14, 2017 - 10:30 a.m.

Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Arts

Sunday, May 14, 2017 - 3 p.m.

Faculty of Pure and Applied Science

Monday, May 15, 2017 - 10 a.m.

Faculty of Professional Studies

Monday, May 15, 2017 - 2:30 p.m.