Honorary doctorates are awarded for substantial contributions made by the recipients to the University of Ottawa, to their profession, to science, or to society at large. An honorary doctorate acknowledges that the recipient deserves to be recognized for their unsurpassed abilities due to life's learning and experiences.

Honorary doctorate recipients spring 2024

Daniel Alfredsson Portrait

Daniel Alfredsson

Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators won the 1996 Calder Memorial Trophy as the National Hockey League’s best rookie player, set several franchise records and was captain from 1999 to 2013; one of the longest stretches in NHL history. Off the ice, he has become synonymous with local awareness campaigns for mental illness and substance abuse, and inspired by the journey of his sister Cecelia, who lives with generalized anxiety disorder, has worked tirelessly to reduce the stigma of mental health disorders. He has received the Governor General of Canada’s Meritorious Service Cross for his legacy as a leader in sports and his ongoing advocacy for mental health disorders.

Angela Cooper Brathwaite

Angela Cooper Brathwaite

Angela Cooper Brathwaite is a past president of both the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario and the International Nursing Interest Group, and co-chair of RNAO’s Anti-Black Racism Task Force. She is an adjunct professor and associate graduate faculty member at Ontario Technology University and holds a PhD in nursing from the University of Toronto, a master’s in nursing from the University of Manitoba and an undergraduate degree in nursing from Memorial University. She has received many awards, including the RNAO Leadership Award in Political Action, the UofT Distinguished Alumnus Award and the Ontario Public Health Association Leadership Award. She has also been appointed to the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.

Mike DeGagné portrait

Mike DeGagné

Mike DeGagné is a citizen of the Animakee Wa Zhing 37 First Nation in northwestern Ontario. He is president and CEO of Indspire, which supports the education of Indigenous people across Turtle Island. He has been president of Nipissing University and Yukon University, and executive director of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. He holds a PhD from Michigan State University and graduate degrees from St. Paul University, York University and Central Michigan University. He has received the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and has co-authored publications on reconciliation and healing. He is currently professor of sociology at the University of Toronto Scarborough.

Debora Diniz portrait

Debora Diniz

Debora Diniz is a Brazilian anthropology professor, feminist human rights activist and documentarian. She holds a PhD from the University of Brasília, where she taught for nearly 20 years, and is currently a visiting scholar at the Centre for Advanced Studies in Berlin. Dr. Diniz founded the Institute of Bioethics, Human Rights and Gender, and was deputy executive director of Fòs Feminista. She has authored or edited more than 20 books, 160 articles and 80 book chapters, and her films have won more than 80 awards. She was nominated one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Global Thinkers and, in 2020, was awarded the Dan David Prize for her contributions to gender justice.

Portrait of Albert Dumont

Albert Dumont

Albert Dumont is an Algonquin and Elder of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg community. He sits on the Grandparents Counsel for Well Living House at St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, is the City of Ottawa’s former English Poet Laureate. He  has worked as an Elder for the Parole Board of Canada at Elder-Assisted Hearings and for Correctional Services Canada as a spiritual advisor for Indigenous men incarcerated at Millhaven Institution. Mr. Dumont has dedicated his life to promoting Indigenous spirituality and healing, and to protecting the rights of Indigenous peoples. He has published six books of poetry and short stories, as well as two children’s books.

Pascal Mayer Portrait

Pascal Mayer

Pascal Mayer is a French biophysicist who was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences in 2022 for research that paved the way for an inexpensive and rapid DNA sequencing technique. An alumnus of the University of Ottawa, he was awarded the Canada Gairdner International Award in 2024. Dr. Mayer obtained his master’s and PhD at the University of Strasbourg in France, joined the Glaxo Wellcome Institute of Biomedical Research and co-founded Manteia Predictive Medicine. Today, he leads Alphanosos, which uses artificial intelligence to discover natural treatments to combat bacteria, viruses and cancer. He was awarded an honorary chair at the University of Strasbourg for his exceptional scientific accomplishments outside the traditional academic world.

Sethuraman Panchanathan portrait

Sethuraman Panchanathan

Sethuraman Panchanathan is director of the US National Science Foundation (NSF). He earned an M.Tech. in Electrical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology and his PhD in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Ottawa, where he taught from 1989 to 1997. Dr. Panchanathan was executive vice- president of the Arizona State University Knowledge Enterprise and was named director of the NSF in 2020. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Computing Machinery. He has furthered the areas of human-centered multimedia computing and person-centered technologies, helping to empower persons with disabilities.

The Honourable Lisa Raitt portrait

The Honourable Lisa Raitt

Lisa Raitt served as the MP for the riding of Halton and the riding of Milton, held the position of Deputy Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, Deputy Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and served as Minister of Natural Resources, Minister of Labour and Minister of Transport. Ms. Raitt is now vice-chair and managing director of global investment banking at CIBC Capital Markets. She sits on the boards of several companies and organizations, and is co-chair of the Coalition for a Better Future. She holds a Bachelor of Science from St. Francis Xavier University, a Master of Science from the University of Guelph and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Ms. Raitt has two sons and is a caregiver for her spouse Bruce, who has Young Onset Alzheimer’s.

Alexandra Szacka portrait

Alexandra Szacka

Alexandra Szacka was born in Poland into a family of scientists and Holocaust survivors, and her family eventually found refuge in Quebec, where she studied science and anthropology before pursuing a career in journalism. From 2007 to 2014 she was a television and radio correspondent for CBC/Radio-Canada in Moscow and Paris, where she covered events across Europe and around the world. Fluent in five languages and the recipient of several awards, Ms. Szacka actively reports for Radio-Canada, and in 2023, published and autobiography, entitled "Je ferai le tour du monde."

Cara Tannenbaum portrait

Dr. Cara Tannenbaum

Cara Tannenbaum is an international leader in drug safety and the integration of sex and gender in health research, education, practice and policy. A professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Montreal, she was scientific director of the Canadian Deprescribing Network and the Institute of Gender and Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Tannenbaum launched Canada’s National Women’s Health Strategy and has advised the European Commission, the US National Institutes of Health, the UK Welcome Trust, the Government of Australia and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Recently inducted into the Order of Canada, she is departmental science advisor for Health Canada.

Ruth K. Westheimer portrait

Ruth K. Westheimer

Ruth Westheimer is a psychosexual therapist who pioneered speaking frankly about sexual matters and whose work grew into a communications network of television, books, lectures, newspaper columns, games, home video, computer software and her website. Dr. Ruth has been an adjunct professor at New York University, an associate fellow of Calhoun College at Yale University, and a fellow of Butler College at Princeton University and the New York Academy of Medicine, in addition to having her own private practice. She has received honorary doctorates from numerous institutions, sharing her knowledge of sexual literacy and working to be inclusive of all lifestyles, abilities, political views and ages.

Honorary doctorate recipients fall 2023

Profile picture of Sam Tsemberis, PhD

Sam Tsemberis

Sam Tsemberis, PhD, is a clinical-community psychologist who originated the Housing First model, an evidence-based program for effectively ending homelessness for individuals diagnosed with mental illness and addiction.

University crest.

Past honorary doctorate recipients

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How are recipients chosen? 

Nominations for honorary doctorates are submitted to the Honorary Degrees Committee. The committee is a standing advisory committee of the Senate. 

What do recipients receive? 

Recipients of an honorary doctorate receive a citation, an imposition, and the conferment of a diploma. 

The citation is the public declaration of the reasons that led the candidate to be presented to the Chancellor for the degree. This declaration is read by a member of Senate. 

The doctoral insignia, which is called a "patte", is worn on the left shoulder, over the academic hood. It is of red silk and ermine surmounted by the University coat-of-arms embroidered in metallic thread. The placing of it for the first time is called the Imposition. Thereafter it remains the property of the recipient of the honorary doctorate. 

The honorary doctorate is conferred to the recipient at Convocation by the Chancellor of the University with the following pronouncement: 

"As Chancellor of the University of Ottawa, by authority of the powers vested in me, I do hereby confer upon you the degree of Doctor of the University, with the title, honour and privileges that are proper to it." 

The recipient is then handed their diploma. 

How can you nominate someone for an honorary doctorate? 

Due to privacy rules, the personal contact information for honorary doctorates is not shared. In addition, the University does not keep up-to-date personal contact information for honorary doctorates. As such, we cannot forward any correspondence received which is addressed to them.