Now that exams are over, students, faculty and staff at UBC are getting ready for the next big event in the academic calendar – graduation. It’s a joyful time on our campuses, when graduating students, their families and friends gather to celebrate a significant milestone.
From personal experience, I can tell you that one of the best parts of a university president’s job is to participate in the graduation ceremonies, and I’ll be doing just that; at the Chan Center on the Vancouver campus from May 24 to June 1 and in the gymnasium at the UBC Okanagan campus on June 8 and 9.
That’s 26 ceremonies in Vancouver and 6 at UBC Okanagan. But I enjoy every minute of it. The joy on the faces of the new graduates and their proud family members makes every ceremony special.
Graduation is also a time for UBC to acknowledge outstanding individuals for their contributions to the university or to society by bestowing honorary degrees. We first began awarding honorary degrees in 1925 (in 2006 at UBC Okanagan), and we have bestowed degrees on many of the world’s outstanding individuals in the 92 years since then, including writer Carol Shields, actor Raymond Burr, His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, ballerina Karen Kain, comedian Rick Mercer, homeless advocate Judy Graves, environmentalist Tzeporah Berman, singer Buffy Sainte-Marie and well, I could go on and on (you can find the full list here.)
This year’s honorary degree recipients are:
- Judith Hall, OC: a UBC professor emerita and renowned clinical geneticist and pediatrician
- Preston Manning, PC, CC: a Conservative politician, former Member of Parliament and longtime advocate for political reform
- Jon Kimura Parker, OC: a world-renowned concert pianist
- André Picard: health columnist for the Globe and Mail and best-selling author.
- Alex Janvier, CM: one of Canada’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, recognized nationally and internationally as a modern indigenous master and leader in the arts.
I’m looking forward to meeting them and hearing their inspiring remarks. More importantly, I’m looking forward to being there as this year’s graduates – the newest members of our 100-year-old alumni family – cross the platform to receive their diplomas and begin the next stage in their remarkable journey.
Professor Santa J. Ono
President and Vice-Chancellor