At York University’s fall convocation ceremonies, four exceptional individuals who have contributed significantly in their respective fields, will receive honorary degrees. The recipients include a world-class scientist, a doctor on a peace mission, an accomplished businesswoman and arts advocate, as well as a noted scholar and lawyer.
“We are thrilled to be honouring four leaders whose work has had tremendous global impact,” says York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “From labour rights and Canada’s cultural identity to scientific innovation and seeking international cooperation through medicine, these individuals have shaped the way we live today. I have no doubt that they will inspire our graduates to engage in new ways of thinking as they leave York to make their own mark on the world.”
Convocation ceremonies will be held from Wednesday, Oct. 14 to Friday, Oct. 16. The Convocation website includes a full schedule of all ceremonies. All ceremonies will take place at the Convocation Pavilion, located at the Aviva Centre, at the Keele campus. (Convocation ceremonies for graduates of the Joint Kellogg-Schulich Executive Master of Business Administration will take place at the Seymour Schulich Building, at the Keele campus.)
Here are the recipients in order of the Faculty ceremonies at which they will be honoured:
Julia E. Foster – Businesswoman, volunteer, arts advocate
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies I– Wednesday, Oct. 14, 10:30am
Julia Foster has made exceptional contributions to Canadian society, most notably in promoting arts and culture, and in improving governance in the non-profit sector. In 2014, she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network and appointed a member of the Order of Canada. Foster’s deep commitment to voluntarism is supported by a successful career in business. She was vice-president of McCann-Erickson Advertising and president and CEO of the Olympic Trust of Canada. Her volunteer works have included serving as chair of the Stratford Festival and the National Arts Centre. Foster was the first woman in York University’s history to chair its Board of Governors. Recently, she was appointed to the governing council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Mary Cornish – Scholar, lawyer, advocate
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies II – Wednesday, Oct. 14, 3:30pm
Mary Cornish (LLB ’74) is an internationally recognized expert in rights and labour law, gender equality, pay and employment equity, social protection, judicial reform, and dispute resolution. She has taught as an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School at York University and is best known for her efforts to bring pay justice to women, playing a key role in obtaining the Ontario Pay Equity Act in 1987. She continues to chair the Equal Pay Coalition and has argued many precedent-setting cases that established important labour and human rights principles in Canada. In recognition of her work to advance the cause of Canadian working women over the years, she was honoured with a tribute from the Ontario Federation of Labour, the Canadian Labour Congress and as a YWCA Woman of Distinction. Cornish was awarded the Law Society Medal from the Law Society of Upper Canada.
Izzeldin Abuelaish – Physician, educator, activist
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Glendon College and Faculty of Health – Thursday, Oct. 15, 10:30am
Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish is a Palestinian physician and a human rights and peace activist. Born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, he has dedicated his life to using health as a vehicle for peace through his research and The Daughters for Life Foundation, a Canadian charity he founded to provide education opportunity for young women in the Middle East. A three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee, Abuelaish is known as the “Gaza Doctor” who has overcome poverty, violence, and the tragic deaths of his three daughters and their cousin in the 2009 Gaza War. In 2010, he published I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey on the Road to Peace and Human Dignity, an autobiography of his loss and transformation. Abuelaish has received the Gandhi Peace Award and the Order of Ontario. He lives with his five children in Toronto, where he teaches at the University of Toronto.
Kenneth George Davey – Scientist, scholar, academic leader
Honorary Doctor of Science
School of Arts, Media Performance & Design, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Environmental Studies, Lassonde School of Engineering, Osgoode Hall Law School, Schulich School of Business and Faculty of Science – Thursday, Oct. 15, 3:30pm
A world-class scientist, Kenneth Davey has made major contributions to the fields of biology, entomology, endocrinology and physiology. His research on the secret life of invertebrates has had important implications for agriculture, aquaculture and medicine. After serving as director of the Institute of Parasitology at McGill University, Davey came to York University, where he served as the chair of the Department of Biology from 1974 to 1981, dean of the Faculty of Science from 1982 to 1985, and vice-president of academic affairs from 1986 to 1991. Today, Davey continues to influence the course of scientific policy in Canada and contributes to organizations, such as the Royal Society of Canada and the Natural Sciences & Engineering Research Council. An Officer of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Davey has received the Silver, Gold, and Diamond Jubilee medals.