UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
UM Today
UM Today

Honorary degree recipients announced for Spring Convocation

March 28, 2014 — 

Honorary degrees will be bestowed upon individuals who have achieved preeminence in community leadership, philanthropy, empowering youth, mentoring and business acumen

During the 135th annual Spring Convocation of the University of Manitoba on May 15, June 3, June 4 and June 5, 2014, the following noteworthy individuals will be given honorary degrees:


Faculty of Medicine Convocation, Thursday, May 15, 2014, 10:30 a.m.

Joseph Du is a community leader who has been the driving force behind the development of the Winnipeg Chinese community since the 1970s. In the 80s he formed the Winnipeg Chinatown Development Corporation and over the next decade, lobbied governments for funding to help build the Chinese garden and the gate that spans King Street, as well as the Dynasty Building, home to the Winnipeg Chinese Cultural and Community Centre. In 2013 the City of Winnipeg renamed a street in Chinatown in his honour. His career as a distinguished paediatrician has spanned nearly four decades; he retired his clinical practice in 2002 and stepped down from his 30-year appointment as a University of Manitoba faculty member in the department of pediatrics the same year.

Leah Hollins is currently chair of the Board of Directors of Canadian Blood Services, Canada’s national blood system, with an annual budget of $1-billion. A leader in program review, organization structure and governance-related issues, her tireless and inexhaustible energy ultimately facilitated the transfer of responsibility for organ and tissue donation and transplantation from the Canadian Council for Donation and Transplantation to Canadian Blood Services. During her appointment as Deputy Minister of Health in British Columbia she managed an organization of 2,500 employees and a budget of $9.5 billion. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Institute for Health Information and is currently chair of Maximus Inc., the company on contract to the B.C. Government that administers the medical services plan.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

Marjorie Blankstein (BA/50), a philanthropic leader and nurturer of culture, has been a defender and advocate for Manitoba’s young people throughout her career as a volunteer, having helped establish many services including youth hostels and Klinic Community Health Centre. In the 1960s, she was instrumental in sponsoring a nursery school for Indigenous children when she was President of the Winnipeg Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, and later became that organization’s National President. She has served as a United Way Campaign Chair, was President of Age and Opportunity and is Board Member Emerita of the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice. She was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Manitoba in 2000 and with a Distinguished Service Award from the University of Manitoba in 2003.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 3:00 p.m.

Lorne Davies, an inspiring mentor for Canadian athletes, helped build the Terry Fox Humanitarian Award Program and is now its executive director. He was director of athletics and recreation at Simon Fraser University for three decades, from 1965 to 1995. He coached 25 seasons of football at various levels from high school to professional. Davies was assistant coach at Western Washington State University, the University of Oregon and the University of British Columbia; was head coach of the Vancouver Blue Bombers junior team, and was a special assistant with the BC Lions when they won the 1964 Grey Cup. Davies has helped develop numerous Olympic athletes and provided guidance on sport, career and life to athletic and humanitarian heroes such as Terry Fox. Davies counseled Fox, a student athlete at Simon Fraser University, through his cancer treatments and subsequent Marathon of Hope.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

Robert Houle (BA/72) is an acclaimed artist helping to define Indigenous identity. A survivor of the Indian Residential School System, he is a member of Sandy Bay First Nation in Manitoba and currently lives and works in Toronto. He received a degree in Art History from the University of Manitoba, and studied painting and drawing at the International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, Austria. He taught native studies at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in Toronto for fifteen years. He has exhibited widely in solo and group exhibition across Canada and abroad. He was curator of contemporary aboriginal art at the Canadian Museum of Civilization from 1977 to 1981 and has curated and co-curated groundbreaking exhibitions. He has written extensively on major contemporary First Nations and Native American artists and has considerable influence as an artist, curator, writer, educator and cultural theorist.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 3:00 p.m.

Hubert Kleysen, Chairman of Kleysen Inc., one of the largest trucking companies in Manitoba. A firm believer in education, Kleysen was an early supporter of logistics courses at the University of Manitoba in the 1990s. These small beginnings eventually led to the founding of the department of supply chain management at the I.H. Asper School of Business, the logistics and transport major in the Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) and the Masters of Science programs in transport and logistics. In 2008, he established the Kleysen Transport Award for the top graduate in the Certificate in Logistics program. Recently, he has pledged to establish a bursary that will support undergraduates in the logistics and transport program.


Thursday, June 5, 2014, 9:30 a.m.

Israel Idonije is the only Manitoba football player to ever suit up in the NFL. A feared defensive lineman, his career spans more than a decade, and during that time the 33-year-old has experienced something few of his professional peers ever will: playing in football’s ultimate competition—the Super Bowl—in 2007. Impressive as his on-field accomplishments are, Idonije says his status as a professional athlete is his “platform” for community service. For his charitable work, Idonije has received numerous honours, including being named one of President Barack Obama’s Daily Points of Light Awardees in 2013. Since 2007, the primary vehicle for Idonije’s philanthropic activities has been the Israel Idonije Foundation, focusing on kids in underserved communities in the three places Idonije considers home: West Africa, Winnipeg; and Chicago.


Thursday, June 5, 2014, 3:00 p.m.

Honourable Justice Rosalie Silberman Abella was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada in 2004, the first Jewish woman so appointed and the youngest judge ever on the Supreme Court. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 1972 and practised civil and criminal litigation until 1976 when she was appointed to the Ontario Family Court. In 1988 she moderated the nationally televised leaders’ debate culminating that year’s federal election campaign. She was appointed to the Ontario Court of Appeal in 1992. She was the sole Commissioner of the 1984 federal Royal Commission on Equality in Employment, and in fact created the term and concept of “employment equity.” The theories of “equality” and “discrimination” she developed in her report were adopted by the Supreme Court of Canada in its first decision dealing with equality rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1989.


, ,

© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341