Concordia University

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Honorary Degree Recipients

Spring 2017 Convocation Ceremonies


Faculty of Arts and Science

The Honourable Chantal Petitclerc, C.C., C.Q., Senator
June 5, 10:00 a.m.
The Honourable Chantal Petitclerc The Honourable Chantal Petitclerc

The Honourable Chantal Petitclerc was born in 1969 in Saint-Marc-des-Carrières, Québec. At the age of 13, she lost the use of her legs following an accident. Her first contact with sport and intense training came following her accident, at the urging of Gaston Jacques, her high school physical education teacher, who convinced her to take up swimming for strength and stamina. This decision would have an important impact on her life, leading ultimately to her discovery of wheelchair athletics.  Her athletic accomplishments and leadership paved the way for a long and very successful career which would take her to the Barcelona Games in 1992, and ultimately, to the Beijing Games in 2008.

Senator Petitclerc is the recipient of numerous honours and recognition for accomplishments in sport, including being named a Companion of the Order of Canada, Personality of the Year by La Presse newspaper (2004) and the Laureus international award (2005).  She has been honoured by the United States Sport Academy, the International Paralympic Committee, has a star on Canada’s Walk of Fame, and has been listed seven times as one of the Most Influential Women in Sport.


Kim Thúy
June 5, 3:00 p.m.
Kim Thúy Kim Thúy

Kim Thúy left Vietnam with the “boat people” at the age of 10 and settled with her family in Quebec. A graduate in translation and law, she has worked as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, restaurant owner and food commentator on radio and television before devoting herself to writing.

Her first book, Ru, published in 2009, was a best-seller in Quebec and France and was translated into more than 25 languages. Ru also garnered numerous literary awards, including the prestigious Governor General's Literary Award, the Grand Prix RTL-Lire at the Salon du livre de Paris, the Premio Mondello per la Multiculturalità , the Prix du Grand public at the Salon du livre de Montréal and the Grand Prix littéraire Archambault. Ru was also shortlisted for the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. In 2015, the English edition won Canada Reads and was declared “the” book to read in Canada.

Her second book, À toi, co-written with Pascal Janovjak, is a meditative correspondence that traces the journey of two children into exile and a nomadic life through memories and anecdotes.

Her third work, Mãn, was shortlisted for the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie and translated into nine languages.

Kim Thúy's latest book is the story of Vi, the “little treasure” caught up in a privileged life and its turmoil who leaves Saigon for Montreal via Suzhou and Boston and grows up beside ordinary heroes.


Robert Calderisi 
June 5, 7:30 p.m.
Robert Calderisi Robert Calderisi

Robert Calderisi specialized in history at Loyola College and was Concordia University’s first Rhodes Scholar. He studied economics at Oxford, the University of Sussex, and the London School of Economics and started his professional career at the Canadian Department of Finance in Ottawa.

Later, Calderisi worked at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and for more than 20 years at the World Bank in Washington, DC. Among other assignments, he was the Bank’s division chief for Indonesia and the South Pacific; head of the Bank’s Regional Mission in Western Africa, based in Côte d’Ivoire; country director for Central Africa; and the Bank’s worldwide spokesman on Africa.

Calderisi is the author of two critically acclaimed books on international development: The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working (2006) and Earthly Mission: The Catholic Church and World Development (2013), both published by Yale University Press.

In 1991, he and his partner Jean Daniel Rossi were the first same-sex couple posted to a senior overseas position by a UN agency. Following Mr. Rossi’s death in December 2008, Calderisi wrote a memoir of their thirty years together. 


John Molson School of Business

J. Sebastian van Berkom 
June 6, 10:00 a.m.
J. Sebastian van Berkom J. Sebastian van Berkom

J. Sebastian van Berkom came to Canada from the Netherlands in 1952 and graduated from Concordia University (Sir George Williams University) in 1969. He began his investment career in 1971 with the Bell Canada Pension Fund.  He is Chairman, President and CEO of the two companies he founded - Van Berkom and Associates Inc (1991) and Van Berkom Golden Dragon Limited in Hong Kong (2012).

Van Berkom brings to his companies and work a disciplined investment philosophy and an assurance that his company processes are carefully implemented and resourced.  He brings his uncommon integrity to the creation of opportunities for students to learn about investing. He founded and funded the Van Berkom Endowed Chair in Small-Cap Equities, the Van Berkom Small-Cap Case Competition, and the Van Berkom Small-Cap Investment Management Program, all at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business. The Van Berkom Small-Cap Investment Management Program gives qualifying students the opportunity to learn how to invest real money in North American small-cap companies.

Van Berkom is a member of the CFA Institute in Montreal, the Cercle de finance et placement du Québec and a founding member of the board of directors of the Institute for Governance of Private and Public Organizations in Canada.   He is the recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the Small-Cap Manager of the Year Award (1997). 


Kenneth W. Woods 
June 6, 10:00 a.m.
Kenneth Woods Kenneth W. Woods

Kenneth W. Woods has devoted the majority of his energies to numerous investment, community and charitable organizations in Vancouver and Montreal. He continues to be active in investment organizations, children’s arts programs and hospital foundations.

He graduated with a BSc from the University of British Columbia and went on to complete his MBA in 1975 at Concordia University and his Diploma in Accountancy at McGill University.

After obtaining his CA designation he was fortunate enough to join three talented partners to create what would become known as TAL Investment Counsel. For twenty years he played a significant role in establishing TAL as a full service global manager, specializing in institutional investment management, private wealth management and mutual funds.

In 1998, Woods started his quest to give back to society. His first major initiative was establishing the Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program at Concordia University in memory of his mentor Professor Calvin Potter. This program involves managing real money, while providing a strong combination of theory and practicality with summer job internships. There are now over 120 graduates – Calvin Potter Fellows - working in business today.

In 2001, Woods was given an Award of Distinction from the John Molson School of Business for his contributions to the community and to the world of business. He was awarded the Fellowship CA designation in 2006.


Lise Watier, O.C., G.O.Q.
June 6, 3:00 p.m.
Lise Watier, O.C., G.O.Q. Lise Watier, O.C., G.O.Q.

Ms. Lise Watier is a true pioneer among Quebec entrepreneurs. As a former television host, she developed a strong awareness of local women’s issues and built her business on a desire to help. In 1968, she founded the Lise Watier Institute, a school dedicated to beauty and self-esteem, and in 1972 she launched Lise Watier Cosmetics.

In November 2009, Watier created the Fondation Lise Watier, whose mission is to promote financial autonomy for women and girls in need.

Watier was one of the first women to make a name for herself in business, achieving international success. The recipient of many honours, she was invested as a member of the Order of Canada in 1991, and promoted to the rank of officer of the Order of Canada in December 2012. She was also named officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2000, and promoted to grand officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2014. Watier was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Université du Québec à Montréal in 2010, and by HEC Montréal in 2014.


Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science

Jahangir Mohammed 
June 7, 10:00 a.m.
Jahangir Mohammed Jahangir Mohammed

Jahangir Mohammed is considered one of the early pioneers in IoT (the internet of things).  He founded Jasper, serving as its CEO and growing Jasper as “the 'on switch' for the internet of things," into a global, cloud-based IoT platform used by over 10,000 companies to manage millions of connected products and devices.  Mohammed is now general manager of the IoT Cloud business unit for CISCO (which purchased Jasper in 2016).

Under his leadership, the company has enabled thousands of enterprises, service providers and ecosystem partners worldwide to deploy Internet of Things services. During the last decade, Mohammed has helped companies across industries to build new connected service businesses that deliver innovative customer experiences and unlock new sources of recurring revenue. Prior to founding Jasper in 2004, Mohammed founded Kineto and worked at Bell Labs.

He is recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including being named Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum for his contributions on IoT. Mohammed holds a M.Eng from Concordia University and a B.Eng from Coimbatore Institute of Technology, India.


David A. Martin, OBE 
June 7, 3:00 p.m.
David A. Martin, OBE David A. Martin, OBE

David Martin is the co-founder, chairman and chief technology officer of Nureva Inc. Previously he co-founded SMART Technologies Inc. in 1987, a company that changed the use of technology in classrooms around the world. He is a recognized technology pioneer and the named inventor on many patents.

Martin has received many awards and levels of recognition because of his efforts, including an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2013 for “contributions to education.”

Martin is a member of the Society of Information Displays and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). He co-chaired the ACM conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work held in Banff, Alberta, in 2006.

Martin has a BSc in applied mathematics from Concordia University in Montreal and has received numerous awards recognizing his work in collaboration technologies.

Martin is married to Nancy Knowlton, his business partner and co-founder of their companies.


Faculty of Fine Arts

Measha Brueggergosman 
June 7, 7:30 p.m.
Measha Brueggergosman Measha Brueggergosman

Motivated and hungry for new experiences, Measha Brueggergosman's highlights on the opera stage include Giulietta and Antonia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Elettra in Idomeneo, Madame Lidoine in Dialogues des Carmélites, Jenny in Weill's Mahagonny, Emilia Marty in Věc Makropulos, Hannah in Miroslav Srnka's Make No Noise, and Sister Rose in Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking.

On the concert platform, her appearances include the Boston Symphony Orchestra, New York Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland and the New World Orchestras, San Francisco and London Symphony Orchestras with conductors such as Daniel Barenboim, Sir Andrew Davis, Gustavo Dudamel, Daniel Harding, David Robertson, Michael Tilson Thomas and Franz Welser-Möst.

Measha began her career predominantly committed to the art of the song recital and has presented innovative programs at Carnegie Hall, Washington’s Kennedy Center, London’s Wigmore Hall, both the Konzerthaus and Musikverein in Vienna, Madrid's Teatro Real, as well as at the Schwarzenberg, Edinburgh, Verbier and Bergen Festivals with celebrated collaborative pianists Justus Zeyen, Roger Vignoles, Julius Drake, and Simon Lepper.

Her first recording for Deutsche Grammophone, Surprise, includes works by Schoenberg, Satie and Bolcom and is one of the most highly regarded debut albums of recent years. Her subsequent disc Night and Dreams, won several awards and her recording of the Wesendonk Lieder with Franz Welser-Möst and the Cleveland Orchestra earned her a Grammy nomination. 

Measha champions the education and involvement of new audiences and holds several honorary doctorates and ambassadorial titles with international charities.

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