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Awards and recognition

SFU announces 2024 Honorary Degree recipients

March 14, 2024

Through their research, writing, music, cultural knowledge or business acumen, the 10 individuals receiving honorary degrees from Simon Fraser University during the 2024 spring and fall Convocation ceremonies have all been trailblazers in their fields and have made a difference in the world.

SFU’s honorary degree is the highest honour conferred by the university. The degrees are awarded during convocation ceremonies in June and October, to distinguished individuals in recognition of their scholarly, scientific or artistic achievement, or exceptional contributions to the public good.

June Honorary Degree recipients:  

Daphne Bramham

For more than 20 years, journalist and author Daphne Bramham has been one of the most respected and read voices in British Columbia. She has used her column in The Vancouver Sun as a platform to shed light on children’s, women’s and animal rights issues and advocate for positive change. Her impact has been recognized through multiple awards, including a National Newspaper Award for column writing and being named Commentator of the Year three times by the Jack Webster Foundation.

Margaret George

A familiar and friendly face who has helped change the fabric of life at Simon Fraser University, Margaret George has dedicated her life to education and service in Indigenous communities and beyond. George served as part of the SFU Elders program for more than 20 years, touching the lives of countless students, faculty and staff with her gentle advice and good humour. She retired this year having left an incredible legacy at the university. 

J. Reid Maxwell

One of the world’s most celebrated drummers, J. Reid Maxwell has been the driving heartbeat as Lead Drummer of Simon Fraser University’s illustrious pipe band for more than 30 years. Without a doubt the most influential and successful pipe band drummer in the world, Maxwell has 20 World Championship wins to his credit, including 12 with the SFU Pipe Band. He has played historic concerts at Carnegie Hall and the Sydney Opera House and taught generations of drummers.

Gerri Sinclair

Gerri Sinclair is a visionary leader who has helped to transform B.C.’s innovation landscape through 35 years working in technology, business, research and government. Her bold approach embraces education and innovation as a way to improve the social and economic outlook of communities. Her entrepreneurial spirit and innovation have inspired generations of students at SFU, across Canada and the world.

Hildegard Westerkamp

Hildegard Westerkamp is a prolific sound activist, composer and soundscape educator who has revolutionized the study of sound together with her colleagues at Simon Fraser University’s World Soundscape Project. With her expert ear carefully attuned to the world around her, Westerkamp has become a household name for pioneering soundscape composition and the practice of “soundwalking”. She has made it a priority to mentor women in her male-dominated field and has inspired new generations of sound artists, environmentalists, urban professionals and composers.

Kii’iljuus (Barbara J. Wilson)

Kii’iljuus (Barbara J. Wilson) is a Haida Kuuljaad (Boss Lady or matriarch) and an accomplished scholar who lives her Kuuniisii (ancestors) ancient knowledge by challenging western science to uphold climate justice, advance food sovereignty, and truth and transparency in governance. She is a fellow with Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, a sought-after speaker, and was an official observer at COP 21 in Paris.

October Honorary Degree recipients:  

Yi Cui

A trailblazer who has pioneered a new branch of research that tackles some of society’s greatest challenges, Stanford University’s Yi Cui is one of the most cited and influential scientists working today. The professor of materials science has combined his expertise in nanoscience and energy storage to make game-changing breakthroughs in the development of next generation batteries that will power our world. 

Esi Edugyan

Canadian novelist Esi Edugyan is an internationally renowned bestselling author and a two-time winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize who has captivated audiences with her writing prowess. A champion of marginalized voices and truth telling, the Victoria, B.C., resident of Ghanaian descent is only one of three people to win Canada’s most prestigious literary award twice, which puts her in an elite group within the Canadian literary club. 

Elio Luongo

Elio Luongo is a visionary business leader who has demonstrated remarkable courage and dedication to creating positive change. As CEO and Senior Partner of KPMG in Canada, Luongo has championed inclusion and diversity; created a culture of future tech innovation and collaboration; and built a reputation for identifying and developing senior talent. Elio also led the formation of Digital University, an industry-leading program by SFU Beedie School of Business and KPMG. 

Alexandra Newton

Canadian biochemist Alexandra Newton is a world-renowned scientist who has been making life-changing research breakthroughs while working towards gender equity and promoting access to training in science for underrepresented groups. Newton’s journey began at Simon Fraser University, where she graduated with a First Class Honors degree in Biochemistry in 1980 and she has gone on to become the first Canadian and first female from the Americas ever elected president of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. 

To read more about SFU’s honorary degrees, click here.