Fall 2015 Honorary Degree recipients

October 06, 2015

During two days of convocation ceremonies Oct. 8 and 9 more than 2,300 students are eligible to cross the convocation dais to collect their degrees. They join the 135,000 alumni who have graduated since SFU opened its doors 50 years ago. And to mark SFU’s 50th Anniversary, 20 charter alumni will once again cross the convocation dais on Oct. 9, this time to receive a special parchment and an alumni pin.  

As SFU celebrates its 50th anniversary, the University is proud to recognize the exceptional achievements of four outstanding individuals who will receive honorary degrees during the October convocation ceremonies: 

Sut Jhally, Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa

Thursday, Oct. 8, 9:45 a.m.

Sut Jhally, an SFU alumnus, is professor of communication at the University of Massachusetts, and founder and executive director of the Media Education Foundation (MEF), an organization that inspires critical thinking about mass media’s impact on society. He is an award-winning teacher, and a celebrated expert on the role that advertising and popular culture play in social control and identity construction. A prolific filmmaker and author, he has produced more than 40 documentary films and videos dealing with issues ranging from gender, sexuality and race to commercialism and violence, and has published extensively on topics relating to communication, culture, advertising and consumption. 

Bill Nye, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2:30 p.m.

Bill Nye is a scientist, educator and performer known to millions of people as “Bill Nye The Science Guy,” from his popular science-education television series of the same name. A mechanical engineer who started his career at Boeing, he has worked as an aeronautics consultant, and contributed to several projects for NASA’s Mars Exploration rovers. He is currently CEO of The Planetary Society, an influential group of more than 40,000 “citizen scientists” in 100 countries that funds research programs in space science, advocacy and public outreach. As the writer, producer and host of a variety of science education programs for children and adults, he has received several Emmy awards. In 2010 he received the Humanist of the Year Award from the American Humanist Association.

Harry B. Gray, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Friday, Oct. 9, 9:45 a.m.

Harry B. Gray is the Arnold O. Beckman Professor of Chemistry and founding director of the Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology. Considered the world’s pre-eminent expert in biological electron transfer reactions, he helped create the field of biological inorganic chemistry. He was also a key leader in developing the Ligand Field Theory, which laid a foundation for understanding the electronic structures of metal ions in enzymes and solar energy materials. He has published more than 850 research papers and 18 books, and his work has been recognized with numerous national and international awards, including the U.S. National Medal of Science (1986) and the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (2004). 

Nancy J. Turner, Doctor of Science, honoris causa

Friday, Oct. 9, 2:30 p.m.

Nancy Turner is an ethnobotanist and ethnoecologist at the University of Victoria who has collaborated with First Nations peoples for more than 40 years to document, retain and promote their traditional knowledge of plants and habitats. She has authored, co-authored or co-edited more than 20 books and monographs and more than 120 peer-reviewed publications. Her work has attracted many accolades, including the Distinguished Economic Botanist of the Year award from the Society for Economic Botany. She has also been recognized with the Order of British Columbia, election to the Royal Society of Canada, and membership in the Order of Canada.