Along with the 7,241 students receiving their degrees at Spring Convocation 2017, nine luminaries will be awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa in recognition of their extraordinary contributions in their fields.
ARTS: DANY LAFERRIÈRE
Dany Laferrière worked as a journalist in Haiti before fleeing the Duvalier dictatorship in 1976 and settling in Montreal. His first novel, How to Make Love to a Negro (Without Getting Tired), launched him as one of the most prominent representatives of a new generation of Quebecois writers. His many honours include being named an Officer of the National Order of Quebec, Officer of the Order of Canada and Commander of the French Legion of Honour. In 2013, he was elected to the highly exclusive Académie française.
EDUCATION: SONIA NIETO
Sonia Nieto is widely acknowledged as one of the most important international voices for cultural openness and bilingual learning. Her dedication to diversity, equity and social justice in education has played a major role in shaping a generation of teachers. Her research focuses on the education of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and her first book, Affirming Diversity, is widely used in teacher education courses internationally. Professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, she was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Education in 2015.
ENGINEERING: DAVID ROSS
Throughout his career, David Ross has successfully blended engineering and business to epitomize the entrepreneurial spirit. In 1991, after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a degree in computer engineering and several business courses under his belt, he joined the company his father founded. Under his leadership, Ross Video has become a global leader and experienced positive revenue growth for 26 straight years. The company was named Ottawa’s Best Large Business in 2015 and Ross was named CEO of the Year in 2016.
HEALTH SCIENCES: DENNIS LIOTTA
Emory University chemistry professor Dennis Liotta has helped to transform HIV/AIDS from a death sentence into a chronic infection, allowing patients to live near-normal lives. It is estimated that more than 90% of HIV-infected individuals in the United States take (or have taken) one of the drugs he invented. One of the premier discoverers of novel therapeutics, including the first drug approved to treat Hepatitis B, he has been named the inventor of record in more than 75 patents. In 2010, he was inducted into the Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame of the American Chemistry Society.
LAW: LOUISE OTIS
During her time as a Quebec Court of Appeal justice (1993-2009), Louise Otis took part in more than 3,000 judgments. She also spearheaded the introduction of one of the world’s first judicial mediation programs, which has since been adopted by all courts and tribunals in Quebec. She has helped institute judicial reforms internationally and received many honours, including Quebec’s Prix de la Justice and appointment as an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is an adjunct professor of law at McGill University and a distinguished fellow of the International Academy of Mediators.
MEDICINE: BRUCE BEUTLER
After receiving his MD from the University of Chicago in 1981, Nobel laureate Bruce Beutler’s initial work focused on the tumour necrosis factor and activation of the innate immune system. He discovered an important family of receptors that allow mammals to sense infections, activating the inflammatory response. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology for this work in 2011. He is currently a director of the Center for Genetics of Host Defense at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
SCIENCES: MARY ANNE WHITE
Mary Anne White has sought to engage the public in scientific discovery throughout her 30-year career as a professor of chemistry and physics. Applications of her research on energetics and the thermal properties of materials have led to advances in energy scavenging and storage, and materials that change colour with temperature for erasable printing. She wrote a popular textbook, Physical Properties of Materials, and helped establish the hands-on Discovery Centre in Halifax. Currently professor emerita at Dalhousie University, she is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and an Officer of the Order of Canada.
SOCIAL SCIENCES: LAKHDAR BRAHIMI
Lakhdar Brahimi has worked to resolve conflicts in some of the world’s most troubled regions. Following Algeria’s independence in 1962, his diplomatic roles included serving as ambassador to the United Kingdom, Egypt and Sudan. In 1989, he brokered the agreement that ended Lebanon’s 17-year civil war. Between 1991 and 1993, he was Algerian Minister for Foreign Affairs. In 2000, the “Brahimi Report” recommended reforms to United Nations peacekeeping. Since 2004, he has been special adviser to the UN secretary-general and from 2012 to 2014 served as joint special representative of the UN and Arab League for Syria.
TELFER SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT:
Edward Shortliffe, a global expert in biomedical informatics, was born in Alberta and moved as a boy to the United States. At Stanford University, he completed a PhD in medical information sciences in 1975 and his MD a year later. Dr. Shortliffe created the medical expert system known as MYCIN, and was one of the first to imagine the disruptive-yet-lifesaving potential of applying artificial intelligence to medical science. Currently editor-in-chief of the Journal of Biomedical Informatics, he has spearheaded the creation of graduate degree programs in biomedical informatics at Stanford, Columbia and Arizona State universities.