2024 Honorary Degree Recipients

Spring 2024 Honorary Degree Recipients

Professor Izzeldin Abuelaish

Izzeldin Abuelaish is a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto and an advocate for women’s education, human rights, and health as key pillars to achieving lasting peace. Born and raised in Jabalia Refugee Camp in the Gaza Strip, he made history as the first Palestinian to complete his residency in obstetrics and gynecology in Israel where he fearlessly provided compassionate medical care, becoming a symbol of hope in improving Israeli-Palestinian relations. In 2009 he lost three daughters during an Israeli offensive in Gaza. In memory of his daughters and as a tribute to his commitment to women’s empowerment, he founded Daughters for Life Foundation, a Canadian charity that exemplifies his unwavering belief that thriving, empowered communities are the bedrock of a peaceful society.

Doctor of Laws, to be presented on May 22, 2024 at 11:00 am.

Hossein Amanat

Hossein Amanat was among the first Iranian architects who distinguished their work by adhering to contemporary principles while applying lessons from traditional architecture. At a time when most architects were following the European International Style, Amanat was creating an original fusion of modernity and tradition. He established his international reputation at age 24, when he won a nationwide competition for the design of the Azadi Tower (formerly known as the Shahyad Tower) in Tehran. This early success led to numerous commissions for several of Iran’s most complex modern buildings, including its embassy in Beijing. After moving to Canada in 1980, his practice expanded and diversified, resulting in an even wider range of prestigious commissions and further securing his prominent place in the pantheon of great architects.

Doctor of Letters, to be presented on May 30, 2024 at 1:30 pm.

William Gibson

UBC alumnus William Gibson emerged as a science fiction writer in the 1980s and has since produced a body of work including novels, short fiction, non-fiction and screenplays. His first novel, Neuromancer, which introduced both the now commonplace concept of “cyberspace” and the term itself, has been one of the more influential novels of the late twentieth century. He is a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences and a favoured source for journalists and other writers researching the reciprocal links between technology and society.

Doctor of Letters, to be presented on May 22, 2024 at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Austin Mardon, C.M.

Dr. Austin Mardon is an accomplished geographer, writer, and researcher. As the founder of the Antarctic Institute of Canada, he has actively sought to provide opportunities for students to engage in meaningful work related to polar research, exploration, and environmental preservation. His legacy as a visionary and mentor is reinforced by significant contributions to the academic and professional development of students at the University of British Columbia. He is also renowned for making significant contributions to the field of mental health and disability advocacy. His personal journey with schizophrenia has given him a unique perspective and empathy for those facing similar challenges, underlined by his role as an advisor to the Mental Health Commission of Canada and by shining a spotlight on the necessity of embracing diverse perspectives and destigmatizing mental illness.

Doctor of Laws, to be presented on May 24, 2024 at 11:00 am.

Ry Moran

Ry Moran is a champion for Truth, Reconciliation and human rights domestically and abroad and is widely recognized as a visionary leader for building and sustaining relationships that advance equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigenous rights. As founding Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR), he was responsible for laying the strategic foundations of the organization, while working in close collaboration with national partners to advance its mission, vision, and mandate. Previously he was Director of Statement Gathering and the National Research Center for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which was mandated to gather survivor statements, along with collecting residential school records from church and government archives. In his current role at the University of Victoria as the inaugural Associate University Librarian for Reconciliation, he actively works to create spaces for decolonized practices within the library and beyond.

Doctor of Laws, to be presented on May 29, 2024 at 1:30 pm.

Dr. Rosemary Elizabeth Ommer

Dr. Rosemary Elizabeth Ommer is an economic historian and geographer with an international reputation for her ground-breaking contributions across multiple fields and disciplines. During the first three decades of her career, she designed and led international and transnational research initiatives in the fields of social-ecological systems, coastal communities and informal economies, the history of fisheries and environmental degradation. Her more recent work has focused upon mentoring second-generation researchers working in diverse fields through her leadership roles on advisory committees for Canadian and international major grants and research programs. She has strong and enduring connections to the University of British Columbia, nurtured through collaborative writing and research projects with students and faculty, and by chairing advisory committees for major programs of research, including the UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries.

Doctor of Science, to be presented on May 28, 2024 at 4:00 pm.

Arran Stephens, O.B.C. & Ratana Stephens, O.B.C.

Arran and Ratana Stephens have been partners in life and in business for more than 50 years, and everything they have achieved together has been driven by their shared lifelong mission: to always leave the earth better than they found it. Since founding Nature’s Path together, Arran and Ratana have grown the company to become the largest organic cereal manufacturer in North America, selling products to more than 50 countries around the world. Lifelong stewards of the environment, the Stephens supported the 2008 Save the Farm campaign, which led to the rezoning of the UBC Farm as green academic space in the University’s land use plan. Since that time, they have contributed more than $40 million to various other philanthropic and community service efforts, including food banks, hospitals and learning institutions.

Doctor of Science, to be presented on May 30, 2024 at 4:00 pm.

Fall 2024 Honorary Degree Recipients

Dr. Bartha Knoppers, O.C.

Bartha Maria Knoppers is Professor Emeritus, Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine and Founding Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at McGill University. She is internationally recognized for her outstanding contributions on the legal and ethical aspects of genetics, genomics and emerging biotechnologies as well as the rights of children. She is a Co-Founder and member of the Board of Directors of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) and Co-Chair of the Ethics and Governance Working Group for the Human Cell Atlas (HCA).

Doctor of Laws, to be presented in Fall 2024.

Sarah Polley, O.C.

Sarah Polley is a Canadian filmmaker, writer, actress and political activist and Academy Award-winner for the 2022 film, Women Talking. After a long and prolific acting career that began at age four, she made her feature-length directorial debut with the drama film Away from Her in 2006, receiving an Oscar nomination for the screenplay, which she adapted from the Alice Munro story The Bear Came Over the Mountain. Her other projects include the documentary film Stories We Tell (2012), which won the New York Film Critics Circle Prize for best documentary; the Netflix mini-series adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace (2017), and the romantic comedy Take This Waltz (2011). Her first book, Run Towards the Danger, was a national bestseller and winner of the 2022 Toronto Book Awards.

Doctor of Letters, to be presented in Fall 2024.

UBC Okanagan Convocation Honorary Degree Recipients

For a list of this year’s recipients visit https://graduation.ok.ubc.ca/honorary-degrees/2024-honorary-degree-recipients/.