It’s tradition. It’s inspirational and aspirational. It’s positive emotion. It’s pomp and ceremony. A historic first and an exciting celebration, with a bit of Latin thrown in for effect.
Early last month, Mount Royal University (MRU) hosted a three-part convocation ceremony for 1,700 MRU students while also installing its new president and vice-chancellor.
According to Andrea Ranson, MRU director of communications, the number of graduates increased from last year, marking the largest spring graduating class in MRU’s history.
In addition to the student success and high achievement celebrated during MRU’s convocation events, it was a bona-fide historic occasion. This was the first year, in compliance with Alberta’s Post-Secondary Learning Act, that MRU was certified to participate in the university tradition of conferring honoris causa – “for the sake of honour” – awarding five distinguished Canadians honorary doctor of laws degrees.
Ranson explains, “The key criteria for a recipient qualifying for an honorary degree includes the recognition of national or international accomplishments, someone who has distinguished themselves from others and has achieved an exceptional standard of excellence in their chosen field.”
In addition, according to Ranson, they are business and community leaders who use their position for the betterment of society. Someone who brings honour to Mount Royal University while serving as a role model of leadership and inspiration to MRU graduates.
The MRU honoris causa selection process began with nominations, followed by the review of the MRU appointments committee allowing the general faculties council to make the final recommendations to the board of governors. The board then officially approved the honorary degree recipients – and bestowed honorary doctor of laws to the following distinguished Canadians.
Dawn Farrell, the Calgary-based president and CEO of TransAlta Corporation, a fervent advocate for Canadian business and a tireless Calgary community leader.
Don Braid, the widely-respected Canadian political journalist – from Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Calgary – who has been a trusted voice interpreting Canadian politics and government for nearly 47 years.
Ann McCaig, the high-energy advocate of advanced education, medical research, health care and youth development; an impassioned supporter of arts and culture; and a distinguished member of the Order of Canada and the Alberta Order of Excellence.
Margaret E. Southern, the iconic supporter of sport and recreation and, together with her late husband Ron, the co-founder of the esteemed Spruce Meadows, one of the finest competitive showjumping complexes in the world. Southern has twice been named to the Order of Canada and is in both the Alberta and Canadian Sports Hall of Fame.
David Johnston, the revered academic, media personality and author, who was the distinguished 28th Governor General of Canada from 2010 to 2017. Johnston has served on many Canadian task forces, commissions, boards and committees invaluably contributing to the betterment of life in Canada.
Also, as part of MRU’s convocation celebrations, the Honourable Lois E. Mitchell administered the oath of office and “robing” of Mount Royal University’s 10th president and first vice-chancellor, Dr. Timothy Rahilly.