The Ring

Honorary degrees for four leaders

Thu, 2011-06-09 10:10

Florian
Florian
Furlong
Furlong
Heuer
Heuer
Naxaxalhts'i (Albert “Sonny” McHalsie)
Naxaxalhts'i (Albert “Sonny” McHalsie)

This spring’s contingent of honorary degree recipients includes the man who led the organization of the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games, a scientist at the helm of the CERN physics lab, a First Nations’ artifact conservationist and a leading interpreter of Coast Salish culture.

Honorary degrees are awarded by the university to individuals who have exceptional records of distinction and achievement in categories that may include scholarship, research, teaching, the creative arts or public service. Past recipients include Prince Philip, Farley Mowat, and Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin.

Podcasts of the Convocation addresses of these honorary degree recipients will be posted on the web as soon as possible after the ceremonies. Visit: http://communications.uvic.ca/podcasting/convocation/

Mary-Lou Florian

Honorary Doctor of Science (10 a.m., June 14)

An internationally recognized pioneer of conservation science in Canada, Mary-Lou Florian was the first biologist hired by the Canadian Conservation Institute before she joined the staff of the Royal BC Museum in 1978. In an extended and distinguished career at the museum, she focused her expertise on artifact conservation—especially First Nations’ totems, basketry and wooden cultural objects recovered from waterlogged archæological sites.

She has consulted widely on fungal damage in art collections, is regularly called upon to identify archæological wood and plant materials, and in 1989 served as the conservationist on the Jason Project, the Mediterranean expedition led by Robert Ballard (who would later lead the discovery of the Titanic’s final resting place).

Florian has given numerous mycology and museum-related lectures and courses in North America and Europe. At UVic, she is affectionately known as the “rotten wood lady” among her students in the Faculty of Fine Arts’ Cultural Resource Management Program. A research associate emerita at the Royal BC Museum, she continues to conduct research on fungal stains and to write teaching manuals on organic materials, with the support of a fellowship from the New York-based Kress Foundation.

John Furlong

Honorary Doctor of Laws (10 a.m., June 15)

Starting with his leadership of the successful bid through to the closing ceremonies, John Furlong is synonymous with the organizational success of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Furlong’s leadership, vision and unrelenting work ethic inspired a team of 1,300 employees and 18,000 volunteers to deliver successful Olympic and Paralympic Games despite a faltering world economy, uncooperative weather, and the death of the Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili. He became known as the “world’s ringmaster” and fulfilled his dream of staging an event that touched the souls of Canadians and helped to unify the country.

Born in Tipperary, Ireland, Mr. Furlong came to Canada in 1975, settling in Prince George. His passion for athletics was evident well before his involvement in the Olympics. He founded the Northern BC Winter Games Society and served BC at seven Canada Games and two Western Canada Games.

Furlong’s prior honours include the Order of Canada, Order of British Columbia, and Sport BC’s Kaizan and Darrel Thompson Awards for services to sports in BC over a lifetime, and in 2009 the Globe & Mail named him Canada’s most influential sports figure.

Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer

Honorary Doctor of Science (2:30 p.m., June 15)

Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer is the director general of the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, arguably the most significant position in high-energy particle physics. He was appointed in 2009, after a widely publicized explosion damaged a portion of the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The LHC is the highest energy accelerator in the world and the centerpiece of ATLAS experiments that could become the next major steps in understanding the formation of the universe. Heuer, an experimental physicist, quickly gained the confidence of the international physics community through a fair, honest and transparent management style that led to the LHC being re-commissioned within a year of his appointment.

Throughout his career at CERN, Heuer has maintained a continuing interest in the vitality of physics in Canada and UVic. He has served on NSERC’s physics grant selection panel and in 2008 he chaired the international review of the five-year plan for TRIUMF, the Vancouver-based research facility, in which UVic is a partner.

Numerous UVic physicists, graduate and undergraduate students have contributed to CERN-based projects for more than two decades. There are six faculty and 12 graduate students from UVic currently engaged in the ATLAS experiment.

Naxaxalhts'i (Albert “Sonny” McHalsie)

Honorary Doctor of Laws (10 a.m., June 17)

Naxaxalhts'i (Albert “Sonny” McHalsie) is a leading interpreter of Coast Salish culture. Known for his skills as an educator, storyteller, historian and leader, he is an inspiration to students and colleagues. He moves seamlessly between the traditional system of teaching and learning, which favours oral transmission of knowledge, and the academic world, with its emphasis on the written word.

Within the Stó:lō community, he has reinvigorated interest in the traditions and knowledge and is preserving them through his work with his people and many others who have sought and relied upon his expertise.

A former student in UVic’s Cultural Resource Management Program, he has served since 1998 as the primary instructor and mentor for the Ethnohistory Field School, which is offered by the university in partnership with the Stó:lō and the University of Saskatchewan.

Naxaxalhts'i’ has a vast repertoire of Coast Salish stories and a peerless knowledge of place names and traditional land uses. His public outreach work takes many forms, including place name tours and the co-authorship of elementary and high school curriculum material. He is also a key advisor to the Stó:lō Nation’s treaty process.

He served on the editorial board, and was an important contributor to the award-winning book, A Stó:lō—Coast Salish Historical Atlas, which has inspired other Canadian and American First Nations communities to move forward with their own research activities.