Bestowing a degree of honour
By Mark Brown
Western's newest graduates had the pleasure of hearing three prominent Canadians speak last week who were bestowed with honorary degrees at the school's 269th convocation.
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Hillary Weston, Peter Gzowski, former host of the CBC Radio program Morningside and disability advocate Rick Hansen were each honored for their outstanding contribution to public life, said Judy Noordermeer, Western's public affairs officer.
Weston was honored for her roles as Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, a philanthropist and a successful business woman, Hansen for the tremendous work and success he has raising awareness of people with disabilities around the world and Gzowski for his contribution to Canadian broadcast journalism, Noordermeer said.
Weston urged the graduating class particularly the women to get involved in the community, as these activities are not a waste of precious time. Instead, she said, "They are your precious time. They aren't just chores to be undertaken for the sake of some moral obligation or social connection. They are, I suggest, the way to join."
Weston added she was delighted to receive the degree of Doctor of Law jure dignitatis, since she never had the luck of going to university.
Gzowski's acceptance was more light-hearted than Weston's but he also encouraged the graduating class to take pride in Canada. "We are building something to be cherished," he said. "As you take the helm, all of our institutions are under attack. I hope for you the spirit of Canada will be the same as the one that has brought us here."
Gzowski, who is proud to call himself a Western Mustang, has been the recipient of many awards including honorary degrees from 10 Canadian universities for his accomplishments as an author, broadcaster and fund-raiser.
Hansen saw many similarities between his 1985-87 Man in Motion tour to the 'journey' on which the graduates are about to engage. "University was just the first step in achieving that goal."
As part of his inspirational speech, Hansen told the graduates to stay current and to sharpen their skills. "Life is about new goals and new dreams. Focus on the things you can do, that is what will propel us in the future never give up on your dreams."
The recipients for the honorary degrees are chosen by members of the university community and then handed down to a committee which reviews the nominees and makes its selection, said Noordermeer.