Irving among honorary degree recipients at Mount Allison

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New Brunswick’s ombudsman, youth advocate to be honoured

James D. Irving is among four people to be presented honorary degrees at Mount Allison University's spring convocation ceremonies next Monday.

SACKVILLE, N.B. – One of the region’s business elites will be one of four honorary degree recipients next Monday during spring convocation ceremonies at Mount Allison University.

James D. (Jim) Irving, CEO of J.D. Irving Ltd. will receive an honorary degree at the university along with former New Brunswick politician and the province’s ombudsman Bernard Richard, the former chief of research and senior scientist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director Deepa Mehta.

Science, commerce, and arts students with honours or majors in commerce, mathematics, or psychology will receive their degrees during the morning ceremony beginning at 9:30 a.m., while arts, fine arts, and music students will be honoured during the afternoon ceremony beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Richard will address the morning convocation, while Mehta will speak during the afternoon ceremony.

Mount Allison University Chancellor and CBC News Chief Correspondent Peter Mansbridge and university president and vice-chancellor Robert Campbell will preside over the ceremonies.

“Mount Allison’s Class of 2013 is a historical one for many reasons. This group of exceptional students is one of our largest — with approximately 500 graduates — and this year marks the 150th anniversary of Convocation,” Campbell said. “I am pleased to welcome them, and our outstanding honorary degree recipients to the alumni community, and congratulate them all on this wonderful accomplishment.”

Mount Allison will also celebrate the first class in its bachelor of science (aviation) program this spring. A partnership with the Moncton Flight College, the program sees students obtain their commercial pilot’s license while earning their undergraduate degree.

History student Katharina Stobbs of Penrith, U.K. has been selected as the 2013 Valedictorian.

Stobbs has been a familiar face on campus, working with the Mount Allison Students’ Union, as an assistant residence don, and in the university advancement office as the Layton Fisher Intern of Philanthropy. She starred in the campus production of The Vagina Monologues and as Maria in this year’s Garnet and Gold musical theatre production of The Sound of Music.

 A number of events will be open to the public over convocation and reunion weekend. Halifax-basedfunk band the Mellotones will perform at Jennings Hall on Friday at 8:30 p.m. while the annual Garnet & Gold Gala, featuring live music will be held in the Wallace McCain Student Centre, on Saturday, starting at 9 p.m.

Tickets for both events are available at the door.

An opening reception for the Fine Arts Graduating Students’ Exhibition will be held Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Owens Art Gallery and Colville House, an interpretive centre devoted to renowned Canadian artist and Allisonian Alex Colville, will be open Friday to Monday from 1 to 6 p.m.

The Convocation Weekend Recital, presented by graduating music students, is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Sunday in Brunton Auditorium in the Marjorie Young Bell Conservatory of Music and Tintamarre, Mount Allison’s bilingual theatre troupe, will present ALBUM on Sunday from 4 to 5 p.m. in Tweedie Hall.

For more information, including a complete schedule of events for Convocation Weekend, please visit


Honorary Degree Recipients

James (Jim) D. Irving

Jim Irving is co-CEO of J.D. Irving, Limited with his brother Robert. Together with their father J.K. Irving they operate a diverse, family-owned enterprise with 130 years of involvement in the New Brunswick business community.

Founded in 1882, J.D. Irving, Limited (JDI) is headquartered in Saint John, N.B. with operations in eastern Canada and the United States. The company employs a dedicated team of approximately 15,000 associates who operate business units in: forestry and forest products; road, rail and sea transportation; shipbuilding and industrial marine; retail; industrial equipment, construction services and building materials; and consumer products.


Irving has served on federal Finance Minister’s economic advisory council and is active on the Board of the Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts. Irving’s community work includes capital campaign leadership for the regional Nature Conservancy of Canada initiatives as well as the Université de Moncton. He is also active in fund raising efforts for wild Atlantic salmon research and conservation through the Atlantic Salmon Federation.



Deepa Mehta


Award-winning screenwriter and director Deepa Mehta has been described as a “transnational artist.” She was born in Amritsar, India and earned a degree in philosophy at the University of Delhi before emigrating to Canada in 1973. Although she had begun making films in India, it was in Canada that she truly launched her career as a screenwriter, a documentarist, and the director of acclaimed dramatic feature films.


Among these, perhaps the best-known are the three titles — Fire, Earth, and Water —  which make up the Elements Trilogy. The third of these, Water, received some 14 international honours, including a nomination as the Best Foreign Language Film at the 2007 Academy Awards. Her most recent film is the cinematic treatment of Salman Rushdie’s signature novel Midnight’s Children, which was launched at the Toronto International Film Festival last August.


Mehta has received many awards and honours throughout her career from both Canadian and international organizations. She was most recently honoured with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award (Lifetime Artistic Achievement) and the Order of Ontario in 2012. She was also named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women (Top 100 Awards by the Women’s Executive Network) and received a Life of Distinction Award from the Canadian Centre of Diversity, as well as several honorary degrees.


Bernard Richard


Following a career in law and social work, as Secretary General of the Société Nationale de l’Acadie Bernard Richard served as an M.L.A. in New Brunswick from 1991 to 2003.  During that time, he occupied several cabinet positions and served as Leader, caucus chair and House Leader in opposition.

In 2004, he assumed the responsibilities of New Brunswick’s sixth Ombudsman and was appointed New Brunswick’s first Child & Youth Advocate in 2006. Richard has been the recipient of several prizes and awards and currently chairs the Board of Directors of Plan Canada (formerly known as Foster Parent Plan), and Fondation Nationale de l’Acadie, a newly created foundation dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the identity of the Acadian people.

Richard serves on Plan International’s Members Assembly and volunteers for several other non-profits, mostly in the area of children`s rights and issues. In 2012, he was named a Trudeau Foundation Mentor.


Dr. Janet Rossant

Janet Rossant is a senior scientist in the developmental and stem cell biology program and chief of research at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and a professor at the University of Toronto. She is deputy scientific director of the Canadian Stem Cell Network and directs the Centre for Modelling Human Disease.

Rossant oversaw extensive research programs at Brock University and the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital from 1985 to 2005. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Societies of London and Canada and a Distinguished Investigator of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Rossant has received many honours throughout her career including the March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology and the Conklin Medal from the Society for Developmental Biology and being elected as a Foreign Associate to the National Academy of Science.

She is actively involved in the international developmental biology community serving as editor of the journal Development for many years and as President of the Society for Developmental Biology in 1996-97. Rossant has also been involved in public issues related to developmental biology, most recently serving as Chair of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research working group on stem cell research and as a member of the National Academies Stem Cell Guidelines Panel.


Organizations: Moncton Flight College, J.D. Irving Ltd., Hospital for Sick Children Mount Allison University CBC News Gold musical theatre Garnet Gold Gala Wallace McCain Student Centre Owens Art Gallery and Colville House Board of the Lahey Clinic Université de Moncton Atlantic Salmon Federation University of Delhi Canadian Institutes of Health Research Society for Developmental Biology Canadian Centre Société Nationale Plan Canada Members Assembly Trudeau Foundation Mentor University of Toronto Canadian Stem Cell Network Brock University Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute Mount Sinai Hospital Royal Societies of London and Canada National Academy of Science National Academies Stem Cell Guidelines Panel

Geographic location: New Brunswick, Toronto, Canada U.K. India Brunton Auditorium Saint John United States Massachusetts Amritsar Ontario

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