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Concordia awards 9 new honorary doctorates

The distinguished recipients include a Paralympic champion, a Governor General’s Literary Award winner and an Internet of Things pioneer
May 9, 2017
By Fiona Downey

Next month, Concordia will present honorary doctorates to nine individuals who have made their mark in the fields of literature, athletics, international aid, music, business and philanthropy. 

The honorands join more than 5,400 students from Concordia’s four Faculties and the School of Graduate Studies who will be receiving their diplomas this spring.

Concordia's convocation ceremonies take place on June 5, 6 and 7 in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts.

Concordia’s 2017 spring convocation: the honorands


Senator Chantal Petitclerc

For her resilience and athletic accomplishments

After losing the use of her legs following an accident at the age of 13, Chantal Petitclerc pursued swimming, then discovered wheelchair racing. She went on to compete in five Paralympic Games, winning 21 medals, fourteen of them gold.

In 2008, Petitclerc retired from competition after winning five of her gold medals at the Beijing Paralympic Games.

The only Canadian athlete who’s won gold at the Olympics, Paralympics and Commonwealth Games, Petitclerc broke 26 world records during her career, two of which still stand.

She served as Canada’s chef de mission for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Earlier that same year Petitclerc was named to the upper house of Parliament, where she now sits as a non-affiliated senator.

Chantal Petitclerc will address the Faculty of Arts and Science on Monday, June 5, at 10 a.m.

Photo by Jean-François Brière Photo by Jean-François Brière

Kim Thúy

For giving eloquent voice to the refugee experience

Kim Thúy’s debut novel Ru won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French language fiction in 2010 and swept the 2015 edition of CBC’s Canada Reads.

Thúy has since published three more novels, including her latest, Vi. Her books have been translated into more than two dozen languages.

Prior to embarking on her literary career, Thúy worked as a lawyer, translator and restaurant owner.

Kim Thúy will address the Faculty of Arts and Science on Monday, June 5, at 3 p.m.

Robert Calderisi

For his contribution to international economic development

A Rhodes scholar who pursued graduate work at Oxford, the University of Sussex and the University of London, Robert Calderisi forged a distinguished career in international economic development, with a particular focus on Africa.

After serving with the Canadian International Development Agency and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Calderisi went on to a number of high-ranking posts with the World Bank.

He is the author of The Trouble with Africa: Why Foreign Aid Isn’t Working and Earthly Mission: The Catholic Church and World Development.

Robert Calderisi will address the Faculty of Arts and Science on Monday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m.

J. Sebastian van Berkom

For his philanthropy and his leadership in the financial sector

J. Sebastian van Berkom is president and CEO of the small-cap portfolio management firms Van Berkom and Associates Inc. and Van Berkom Golden Dragon Limited of Hong Kong.

He has made significant donations to spur research into treatments and cures for neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, and to support work in social pediatrics at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Van Berkom’s donation to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts spearheaded the institution’s permanent acquisition of the colourful blown-glass sculpture The Sun, created by Dale Chihuly, that stands outside the Michal and Renata Hornstein Pavilion.

J. Sebastian van Berkom will address the John Molson School of Business on Tuesday, June 6, at 10 a.m.

Kenneth W. Woods

For his community activism, philanthropy and investment expertise

Kenneth Woods (MBA 75) is director of the Flash Fund Foundation and founding president of Coolwoods Investments Ltd. He established the Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB), providing students with the extraordinary opportunity of managing an actual investment portfolio that has grown significantly over 17 years.

Through his family’s foundation, Woods has also been a generous supporter of several hospitals as well as organizations that benefit the arts, youth programs and educational initiatives. In 2001, Woods was presented with a JMSB Award of Distinction for his outstanding contributions to the community and the world of business.

Kenneth Woods will address the John Molson School of Business on Tuesday, June 6, at 10 a.m.

Lise Watier

For her business acumen and philanthropy

Lise Watier is founder of the cosmetics company which bears her name. Since its creation in 1972, Watier has kept the firm at the forefront of scientific research, drawing on the benefits of botanicals to enhance the company’s product lines. She presided over its activities for more than 40 years, developing the brand into one of Canada’s leading companies in its field.

In 2009, she established the Lise Watier Foundation whose current mission is to help women and girls achieve financial autonomy. S’entreprendre operates three programs that support girls and women to ensure they are able to return to school, re-enter the job market or succeed as entrepreneurs.

Lise Watier will address the John Molson School of Business on Tuesday, June 6 at 3 p.m.

Jahangir Mohammed

For his pioneering work on the Internet of Things

In 2004, Jahangir Mohammed became founder and CEO of Jasper Technologies, a company that recognized the Internet of Things (IoT) as a service that would allow physical devices to collect and exchange data.

In 2012, computer giant Cisco announced its “Internet of Everything” campaign, having acquired Jasper as the central element of its cloud-based software platform allowing businesses to launch IoT services worldwide.

Jahangir Mohammed will address the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science on Wednesday, June 7, at 10 a.m.

David A. Martin OBE

For his significant contributions to the field of educational technology

David A. Martin is co-founder, chairman and chief technology officer of Nureva Inc., a technology company that develops collaborative tools for educators and business professionals. A technology pioneer, Martin also co-founded SMART Technologies Inc. and created the Smart Board, the world’s first interactive whiteboard.

Martin’s efforts have had a profound impact on teaching and learning worldwide. In 2013, he was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his significant contributions to education.

David A. Martin will address the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science on Wednesday, June 7, at 3 p.m.

Photo by Mat Dunlap

Measha Brueggergosman

For her distinguished musical career and commitment to charitable organizations

Critics from The New York Times and Opera News have praised Measha Brueggergosman’s dramatic and vocal talent. Her repertoire ranges from classical and opera through cabaret to popular music.

The New Brunswick-born singer performed the Olympic Hymn at the opening of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.

Brueggergosman is a dedicated supporter of the African Medical and Research Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund and the Canadian Learning Through the Arts program.

Measha Brueggergosman will address the Faculty of Fine Arts on Wednesday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m.


Find out about Concordia’s 2017 spring convocation ceremonies.


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