Innovators, champions among honorary degrees

Life-saving and game-changing innovators, award-winning artists and international sporting champions stand among seven distinguished individuals to receive honorary degrees when Western hosts its 314th Convocation this fall.

The ceremonies, featuring addresses by the honorary degree recipients, are scheduled for the following days:

Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue
10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD)

At the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were not only the first ice dancers from North America to win the Olympic gold medal, but they were also the first ice dance team to win on home ice, the first to win gold in their Olympic debut, and the youngest pair to win. At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, they won silver medals in ice dancing and in the team event. After taking a two-year hiatus, Virtue and Moir won two more gold medals at the PyeongChang 2018 Games securing their titles as the most decorated figure skaters in the history of the sport.

Mina J. Bissell
3 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 23
Doctor of Science, honoris causa (DSc)

A Distinguished Senior Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Mina J. Bissell pioneered the field of tumor microenvironment. Investigating mammary glands and breast cancer, her body of work proved the pivotal role that extracellular matrix signaling plays in regulation of gene expression in both normal and malignant cells. Her laboratory pioneered the use of 3D organoids and techniques.

Donald Franklin Gerson
10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 24
Doctor of Science, honoris causa (DSc)

Dr. Donald Gerson, BSc’68 (Chemistry), is Founder, President and CEO of PnuVax, Inc. and PnuVax SL Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., developers and manufacturers of vaccines. PnuVax is dedicated to the development of vaccines for underserved populations worldwide, and is focusing on new low-cost vaccines to prevent pneumonia, yellow fever, and other neglected diseases. Gerson taught biophysics and biochemical engineering from 1972 to 1979.

Max Tibor Eisen
3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD)

Max Eisen was born in Moldava, Czechoslovakia in 1929 into a large orthodox Jewish family. His extended family including parents, two younger brothers and baby sister, his paternal grandparents and uncles, aunts and cousins all perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp in May of 1944. His memoir, By Chance Alone, was the winner of Canada Reads 2019.

Tim David Hockey
10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 25

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD)

Tim Hockey, President and CEO of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, is a financial services leader with more than 35 years of experience in banking and wealth management. A philanthropist and impassioned volunteer, Hockey, EMBA’97, is heavily involved with The Hospital for Sick Children and the Mattamy National Cycling Centre. Hockey serves on the Advisory Board of the Ivey Business School.

Anita Gaffney Misener
3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25
Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD)

Since being appointed Executive Director of the Stratford Festival in 2012, Anita Gaffney has guided the launch of a number of new initiatives including The Forum, The Laboratory, the HD film series and the Stratford Direct bus service. Gaffney, BA’90 (English Language and Literature), MBA’02, was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network.