June 15, 2001
The power of one
Honorary degree recipients are shining stars
Dr. Rod Fraser
Each day of convocation, as our graduands cross the stage to receive their degrees, we also acknowledge one additional person for his or her exemplary achievements - the honorary degree recipient. These recipients are outstanding examples of individuals who have made powerful contributions to our society, on local to international scales. They are shining examples of what driven individuals can achieve, and serve as models for the standard of excellence we hope our students will strive for in their futures.
Don Tapscott is an excellent model for the relevance of life-long learning. As someone who has seized the opportunities provided by the information super-highway, he has led us in thinking intellectually about the Internet and various new media, and the many implications they have on our society, from business to rethinking democracy. His knowledge in terms of the Internet's capabilities as a profound medium has led former American Vice-President Al Gore to consider Mr. Tapscott as "one of the world's leading cyber-gurus." This creative and adaptive thinker shares his wealth of information worldwide as a speaker in high demand.
Herbert Belcourt is an exceptional local businessman who has generously given back to the community, developing many programs and opportunities for aboriginal people. Through his efforts and advocacy, he has improved living conditions for hundreds of families. He has raised awareness in the community and in political arenas about fetal alcohol syndrome, spurring increased research into its causes and treatments. He strongly believes in the power of education to help aboriginal people thrive socially and economically, as proven in his support to the University of Alberta through scholarships for aboriginal students, and an endowment to create the foundation of Native Student Services' aboriginal recruitment strategy. His dedication to the aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities serves as a model for us all.
Dr. Henry Friesen is an ambassador for excellence in research. His discovery of a human hormone, and subsequent test for tumors which secrete excess amounts of this hormone, have affected the lives of thousands with reproductive disorders. He has also played an important role in the creation of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and led such funding agencies to broaden the scope of medical research being supported in Canada. As chair of Genome Canada, he continues to lead our country in areas of vital importance. His undertakings, past to present, are testament to the critical importance of research to the future of our country.
Adeline Roche is a champion for humanity. She has stretched her arms far beyond the borders of her home country of Ireland to touch the devastated lives of others, namely the victims of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Her leadership has culminated in an awe-inspiring project to not only provide medical aid, but also provide thousands of Belarussian children with the opportunity to recuperate in Ireland, adding two years of life to every child who is taken outside of the radioactive zone for only one month. With her strong vision of how the world should and could be, she has courageously attempted to make the world a better place.
Erast Huculak is an entrepreneur with a philanthropic heart. An accomplished businessman, he has harnessed that success to further humanitarian causes, as well as support projects related to his ancestral ties to Ukraine. As founder and director of the Children of Chernobyl Canadian fund, he has provided much humanitarian support to victims of the nuclear accident. As well, through his generous philanthropy, he has promoted increased relations between Ukraine and Canada, on both government and citizenry levels. A primary example of this is his funding of the University of Alberta's Huculak Chair of Ukrainian Culture and Ethnography, which is housed in the only centre for Ukrainian studies in North America.
Professor Oluwole Soyinka is an exceptional playwright, poet and novelist who has nobly searched for truth amidst turmoil. His written work reflects the political and cultural strife of his life in Africa. Throughout his life, he has remained a light of truth, speaking out in pursuit of the truth despite the risk to his life. For outwardly standing fast to his views, he has been imprisoned, held in solitary confinement, and finally forced into exile from his native Nigeria. He is the embodiment of our University motto, Quaecumque Vera - whatsoever things are true.
This year's honorary degree recipients are sterling examples of the power of one - the power of one person to make a difference. As a university that strives to provide our students with the skills and knowledge to be the leaders of tomorrow, our honorary degree recipients are inspiration for what our students can accomplish as they make their way in the world.