SFU honorary degrees celebrate inspiring and innovative leaders

June 11, 2018

During the spring convocation ceremonies June 12-15, SFU will grant degrees to almost 4,700 students and to six distinguished individuals whose inspiring accomplishments are making a difference at home and around the world. 

Michael Francis  

Wednesday, June 13 | 9:45 a.m.

Michael Francis is a Vancouver chartered accountant, innovator and leader who has devoted much of his life to community engagement. A past member and chair emeritus of the SFU Board of Governors, he has shared his time and business expertise by chairing many corporate and public boards. These include the BC Trade Development Corp. where, as chair, he broke new ground in developing important new trade relations; and the Vancouver International Film Festival, which he served for 25 years, guiding its unprecedented financial and artistic success. In 2000 he received a Leo award recognizing his contributions to building B.C.’s film industry and to growing and developing B.C.’s cultural and arts communities. In 2001 the Institute of Chartered Accountants named him as a fellow. He is also president of Seed Management Inc., an early-stage venture capital company.

Dorothy Grant 

Wednesday, June 13 | 2:30 p.m.

For more than three decades, fashion designer Dorothy Grant has been combining traditional Haida art with contemporary fashion design to create stunning garments that evoke self-respect and pride for First Nations culture. A graduate of Vancouver’s Helen LeFeaux School of Fashion Design, Grant premiered her first fashion collection in 1989 under the Feastwear label. Her Haida-inspired clothing has since appeared around the world on fashion runways, on the red carpet, and in museum and gallery collections. A successful entrepreneur, she continues to produce three fashion labels from her Tsawwassen, B.C. studio, leading the way for new generations of Indigenous designers across North America. In 2015 she received the Order of Canada for her “contributions to the fashion industry as an artist, designer and mentor.” 

Madeleine Thien   

Thursday, June 14 | 9:45 a.m.

Madeleine Thien is a celebrated Canadian author whose compelling books explore individual lives caught in the storm of political revolutions. Her books, translated into more than 25 languages, are bringing Canadian literature to the world stage. In 2016 her novel, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, about the legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstrations, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction. She also publishes literary criticism, essays and multimedia work, and has taught literature and fiction around the world. In 2013 she served as SFU’s Writer in Residence for two semesters and was later appointed inaugural Shadbolt Research Fellow at SFU. She is a professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York.  

Ashok Khosla

Thursday, June 14 | 2:30 p.m.

Ashok Khosla, who holds a PhD in experimental physics from Harvard University, is an internationally renowned pioneer in alternative development strategies. His work to develop basic concepts, practices and systems for promoting social and environmental sustainability has had profound impacts in India and worldwide. He established the first governmental agency for the environment in a developing country and, in India, the first international information system on the environment, Infoterra. He also established the Development Alternatives Group—the first social enterprise for sustainable development. He has contributed to the sustainability policies of many international organizations, including the UN Environment Program and the World Bank. He has co-chaired the UN’s International Resource Panel and has held senior positions with many international commissions, summits and organizations for environment and development. Among his many awards and honours, he is an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and a UN Sasakawa Environment Prize laureate.

Crystal Pite 

Friday, June 15 | 9:45 a.m.

Crystal Pite is an internationally renowned Canadian choreographer whose works are sought by some of the world’s best dance companies, including the Paris Opera Ballet and the Royal Ballet. A former dancer with Ballet British Columbia and Ballett Frankfurt, she began choreographing in 1990 and has since created more than 50 works, including a work for SFU dance students that was performed at SFU Woodward’s in 2014. Noted for her mastery of craft, Pite engages her audience emotionally and intellectually through creations that are unflinching, finely wrought and profoundly human. She is an associate artist with Nederlands Dans Theater, Canada’s National Arts Centre, and Sadler’s Wells, London. In 2002 she formed her own Vancouver company, Kidd Pivot, which tours nationally and internationally. She has won many awards, including the 2017 Benois de la Danse for her creation The Seasons' Canon at the Paris Opera Ballet and the 2017 Olivier Award for Betroffenheit, created with Jonathon Young. 

Dr. Stanley Zlotkin  

Friday, June 15 | 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Stanley Zlotkin is a professor of paediatrics, nutritional sciences and public health at the University of Toronto, a senior scientist at The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute and chief of global child health at SickKids. Dr. Zlotkin has made a significant contribution to children’s health in developing countries through his research and advocacy to prevent malnutrition, including nutritional anaemia. Challenged by UNICEF to find a solution to combat iron deficiency that affects millions of children, he developed Sprinkles, an affordable micronutrient powder that caregivers can easily use to fortify their children’s food and prevent nutritional anaemia. He worked internationally to create the necessary partnerships for producing and distributing this life-saving product to millions of infants and young children. He has received many awards for his advocacy work for children, including the H.J. Heinz Humanitarian Award in 2001, the Order of Canada in 2007 and the Order of Ontario in 2016.