Honorary Degrees

March 20, 2003, vol. 26, no. 6



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Each year during convocation ceremonies, SFU honours several distinguished Canadians with an honorary doctor of laws, honoris causa, degree. This year, SFU introduces two new honorary degrees: doctor of fine arts, honoris causa and a doctor of science, honoris causa. Each of the honorary degrees recognizes the outstanding contributions the recipients have made to B.C. and Canada.


John Alleyne
Lüder Deecke
John Dixon
Mike Harcourt
Jack Kowarsky
George Pedersen
Max Wyman

John Alleyne
 John Alleyne, artistic director of Ballet British Columbia since 1992, will receive an doctor of fine arts degree during SFU's spring convocation ceremonies.

Alleyne is one of the world's leading choreographers, and has shaped Ballet B.C. into a company known internationally for artistic excellence, daring innovation and groundbreaking achievement. Born in Barbados, he trained at the National Ballet school in Toronto, and joined the National Ballet in 1984 first as a soloist and later as resident choreographer.

He has created works for renowned companies such as the New York City Ballet, the Stuttgart Ballet, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

Alleyne has won many awards, including the Dora Mavor Moore Award for outstanding new choreography and the Harry Jerome award for professional excellence from the Black Business and Professional Association. He is a role model for young dancers seeking to maintain the integrity of their artistic vision while striving for excellence.


Lüder Deecke A renowned brain researcher, teacher and physician, Lüder Deecke's scientific discoveries have had a worldwide impact on brain research and the treatment of neurological disorders. He will receive a doctor of science degree. Professor ordinarius in the department of neurology at the Unviersity of Vienna, Deecke is head of the Ludwig Boltzmann institute of functional brain topography and heads an endowed centre for theoretical brain research in the principality of Liechtenstein. His discovery of a unique electrical brain signal - the Bereitschafts potential, which is a measure of neural activity in the brain that precedes voluntary movements - set the world standard in research and rehablitation of motor control systems.

John Dixon
John Dixon's ability to effectively communicate his well-researched perspectives on hot button issues has helped make the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) the most influential association of its kind in Canada. He has been awarded a doctor of laws. Twice elected and currently BCCLA president, Dixon has helped the public and the media see often unpopular sides of emotionally charged issues through his guardianship of civil liberties. In between teaching at Capilano College in North Vancouver, the New Westminster born philosophy instructor makes time for countless media interviews and speaking engagements on politically loaded issues such as native land claims, AIDS and pornography. He also writes opinion pieces for the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun. As a public figure who champions well-reasoned and expressed thought, Dixon's work epitomizes a notion highly valued at SFU - the vigorous expression of ideas from a variety of perspectives. Dixon has also served as a senior advisor on public policy to the federal government. His book, Kiddie Porn: Sexual Representation, Freedom of Expression and the Robin Sharpe Case, with co-author Stan Persky, was awarded a $10,000 Donner prize, last year, for best Canadian book on public policy.

Mike Harcourt Former political colleagues and foes respect him for his against-all-odds approach to achieving his goals as a community activist and politician. As a young lawyer and Vancouver's mayor, Mike Harcourt helped save Vancouver from the wrecking ball. He worked with social planners, regional politicians, community groups and architects to convince Ottawa to quash its concept of waterfront freeways linked to the Trans Canada highway. He then pioneered a new concept of urban renewal that involved residential rehabilitation and local area planning. Harcourt, who has been awarded a doctor of laws, is working with renowned spinal cord advocate Rick Hansen on disability issues. A self-described recovering politician, Harcourt sits on numerous boards.


Jack Kowarsky A man with indefatigable energy, Jack Kowarsky volunteers his services to a host of institutions, organizations and community groups. One of B.C.'s most successful law practitioners, Kowarsky's most significant contribution may be his leadership in the development of the national, B.C.-based, Arthritis Research Centre of Canada (ARCC). This organization, which he now chairs, researches the practical aspects of living with arthritis. Kowarsky has also devoted much of his time and expertise to SFU, where he is currently vice-chair of the board of governors, an entity he has served since 1997, including one year as chair. He has been awarded a doctor of laws. A trustee of the Lohn Foundation, Kowarsky oversees a $6 million endowment whose monies have been used to expand and strengthen SFU's co-operative education program, its city program and the management of technology MBA program. He has also been an external advisory board member for the faculty of business administration and is a founding director of the SFU Community Development Corporation (UniverCity). In the larger community, Kowarsky chairs the B.C. and Yukon Arthritis Society, the Jewish National Fund of Canada and the Schara Tzedeck cemetery board.

George Pedersen Former SFU president George Pedersen has devoted more than 50 years to educational leadership and community service. During his presidency at SFU from 1979 to 1983 he encouraged the establishment of a university presence downtown and an engineering program at SFU, provided support for the SFU pipe band, and initiated the university's first substantive effort to build ties with alumni and donors. He will receive a doctor of laws. Pedersen left SFU to serve briefly as president of UBC, before leaving to serve two terms as president of the University of Western Ontario. He retired in 1994, and later served as interim president of University of Northern B.C., where he is currently chancellor, and founding president of Royal Roads University in Victoria.

Max Wyman
Vancouver Sun arts and culture commentator and Order of Canada recipient Max Wyman will receive a honorary doctor of letters from SFU at fall convocation. For more than 30 years, Wyman has been an articulate and passionate promoter of Canadian culture and the arts. As a journalist, he served as both critic and advocate, encouraging Canadian artists to aspire to the highest levels of achievement. He has served on many local and national arts organizations and last year he was elected president of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO. He is the author of several books on culture. His definitive exploration of the story of dance in Canada, Dance Canada: An Illustrated History, was included in Great Canadian Books of the Century: 135 Books that shaped a Nation, published in 2000.

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