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Concordia awards 7 new honorary doctorates through a virtual celebration

The recipients include a STEM outreach champion, a preserver of Indigenous languages and culture and a BBC journalist
June 3, 2020
New Brunswick-born Lyse Doucet has spent her 37-year career telling stories that often go underreported in Western media. She served the BBC for 15 years as a foreign correspondent.
New Brunswick-born Lyse Doucet has spent her 37-year career telling stories that often go underreported in Western media.

Concordia is pleased to announce seven distinguished honorary degree recipients who reflect a variety of expertise including STEM outreach, sustainable industry, Indigenous language preservation, journalism and modern dance.

“The expertise and accomplishments of our new honorary doctorates reflect the breadth of Concordia’s academic mission and our vision of what a next-generation university can be,” says Graham Carr, President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia. “What our honorees all share is an extraordinary dedication to serving society. They are an inspiration not just for Concordia’s Class of 2020, but for all Canadians. They remind us, especially in a time of global health emergency, about the power of ideas as a force for good in the world, and of how much we should value creativity, science, innovation, social engagement, civic outreach and principled investigation.”

The honorary doctorate recipients will be featured as part of CU Celebrate, a virtual celebration of our graduates. It’s not a virtual convocation, but instead an opportunity to recognize our 6,244 new graduates from Concordia’s four faculties and the School of Graduate studies.

CU Celebrate launched on June 2 with information on how friends, family, peers and professors can fete graduates, including creating and sharing a custom message. CU Celebrate will grow over two weeks with more messages of congratulations and other content, leading up to the virtual celebration of graduates on June 18. Graduates, families, and all members of the Concordia community are invited to join in the festivities by visiting CU Celebrate for more information beginning on June 2.

Concordia looks forward to formally welcoming its honorary degree recipients and graduates to an in-person celebration when circumstances permit.

Concordia’s spring convocation: the honorands

Jennifer Flanagan – co-founder, president and CEO of Actua

For empowering underserved populations through STEM programming

Actua is Canada’s largest science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) outreach organization. The national charity partners with companies, governments, post-secondary institutions and community organizations to provide STEM programs that build self-confidence and employability skills to more than 300,000 youth annually, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Flanagan’s work has been recognized with accolades including the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award, Top 40 Under 40, WXN Most Powerful Women and the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.

David Fung – sustainable technology integrator and serial entrepreneur

For developing sustainable industries around the globe

Hong Kong-born David Fung has founded or co-founded more than 30 business ventures in North America, Europe and Asia. Trained as a chemical engineer, he has held key research and operational positions at global chemical and engineering companies and has spent much of his career developing sustainable industry and energy solutions. These include the world’s largest smelter sulphuric acid recycling system, waste-water recycling in Israel, a Sino-Canadian waste-powered plant in Shanghai, a packaging-recycling partnership in Europe, Asia and North America, and a sustainable aquaculture operation in China.

Dame Julia Higgins DBE FRS FREng – eminent British scientist

For promoting diversity and inclusion in science and technology

Julia Higgins’ approximately 250 publications span chemistry, physics, chemical engineering and materials science. Among her many research firsts is her use of neutron scattering to investigate the dynamics of polymer molecules. Higgins was the first woman fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Beyond her extensive research and teaching activities, since the early 1990s Higgins has actively promoted the advancement of science and technology education, particularly for women.

Fibbie Tatti – Indigenous linguist and media host

For preserving and promoting Indigenous languages and culture

Born to the Sahtuotine First Nation on Great Bear River in the Northwest Territories, Fibbie Tatti is a fluent speaker, writer and storyteller of the North Slavey Language. Over the past four decades she has helped develop an influential model for Aboriginal language curricula and served as an advocate and monitoring agent of the NWT Official Languages Act. She was involved in both the Sahtu People’s land claim settlement and the community of Deline’s self-government agreement. She has also hosted a CBC North TV current affairs program.

Lyse Doucet CM OBE – BBC foreign correspondent, host and documentarian

For her reporting and commitment to journalistic integrity

New Brunswick-born Lyse Doucet has spent her 37-year career telling stories that often go underreported in Western media. She served the BBC for 15 years as a foreign correspondent, first from West Africa, then from the Middle East, where she developed an international reputation as an expert on the region. In 1999 she transitioned into the role of senior presenter, but as the BBC’s chief international correspondent she also continues to report from the field and make documentaries. She is often deployed to interview key figures and anchor major news events around the globe, such as the Arab Spring.

Margie Gillis OC CQ  – modern dancer, choreographer, teacher

For her contributions to modern dance, teaching and activism

Montreal-born Margie Gillis is one of the most influential Canadian choreographer-dancers of the 20th and 21st centuries. In 1979, she became the first performer to take Western modern dance to China, and her original works, infused with political, social, and cultural themes, continue to be performed around the globe. She has served as a spokesperson for OXFAM, the Planned Parenthood Foundation, several AIDS-awareness organizations, and is an active defender of environmental causes.

Vikas Swarup

Vikas Swarup – Government of India diplomat and bestselling author

For literary excellence and dedication to diplomacy

Vikas Swarup is an internationally renowned bestselling author and long-serving civil servant for the Government of India.

In a diplomatic career that spans more than three decades, Swarup has worked for the Indian Foreign Service in various capacities in Turkey, the United States, Ethiopia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Japan. After serving as the official spokesperson of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi (2015 – 2017), he was appointed India’s High Commissioner to Canada. In 2019, he became Secretary (West) in India’s External Affairs Ministry.

Swarup penned his first novel, Q&A, in just two months while posted in London. Q&A came out in 2005 and has since been published in 43 languages and won multiple awards. The film version, Slumdog Millionaire, won seven BAFTAs, four Golden Globes and eight Oscars, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. His subsequent books, Six Suspects and The Accidental Apprentice, have been published in all major languages.

Swarup has written for TIME, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Financial Times, and has participated in literary festivals around the world. In 2009 he received the U.S.-India Business Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award for “Contributing to the Cultural Ties that Bind.”

Find out more about CU Celebrate.


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