VIU To Award Five Honorary Degrees and Two Alumni Awards at Spring Convocation

May 10, 2014 - 9:00pm

Vancouver Island University (VIU) will be awarding five Honorary Degrees and two Distinguished Alumni Awards at the 2014 spring convocation ceremonies at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre, June 2 - 4.

Five Honorary Degrees will be awarded to celebrate the recipients and their considerable achievements. These five outstanding individuals are being honoured as each speaks to VIU's values. Although they come from a variety of backgrounds, all have devoted their time, skills and in-depth expertise to making our communities and world a better place.

Distinguished Alumni Awards will also be bestowed in recognition of the exceptional achievements of two of VIU's most accomplished alumni.

The following Honorary Degrees will be awarded:

Raffi Cavoukian – Honorary Doctorate of Letters: June 2, 2:30 pm

Raffi is best known as a talented Canadian singer, writer, author and speaker. Once called "the most popular children's singer in the English-speaking world" (Washington Post) and "Canada's all time children's champion" (Toronto Star), Raffi received the Order of Canada and the United Nations’ Earth Achievement Award. He founded The Centre for Child Honouring in 2010, which is at the heart of a global movement to create sustainable, peacemaking societies.

Wade Davis – Honorary Doctorate of Letters: June 3, 10 am

A writer, speaker, educator, photographer, filmmaker and world adventurer, Davis was named one of the “Explorers for the Millennium” by the National Geographic Society. A native of BC, his work as an anthropologist and botanical explorer has taken him from the forests of the Amazon to the mountains of Tibet, and from the high Arctic to the deserts of Africa. Davis is the author of 17 bestselling books, and his documentary films and photographs have been shown in major exhibits around the world.

Takao Tanabe – Honorary Doctorate of Letters: June 3, 2:30 pm

Over a career spanning 60 years, Tanabe has gained international acclaim as one of Canada’s most important painters. The son of a fisherman born on BC’s coast, his life journey has taken him from imprisonment on Canadian soil as a Japanese alien during World War II to exhibiting his paintings throughout Canada and internationally.

Shelagh Rogers – Honorary Doctorate of Letters: June 4, 10 am

Canadian broadcast journalist Shelagh Rogers has captivated and entertained millions of Canadians with her voice and personality on CBC Radio programs such as Morningside, Basic Black, This Morning and Sounds Like Canada for more than 30 years. She is the current host of The Next Chapter, a weekly show on CBC. Rogers was named an Officer of the Order of Canada for her work as a passionate advocate promoting Canadian culture, adult literacy, awareness of mental illness, and building new relationships through reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

C.S. (Buzz) Holling – Honorary Doctorate of Science: June 4, 2:30 pm

One of Canada’s best known forest entomologists, Buzz Holling is a Professor in Ecological Sciences at the University of Florida. With an international reputation for his work in the management of natural resources, Dr. Holling has received many awards including being named Officer of the Order of Canada. His pioneering methods in adaptive ecosystem management paved the way for modern movements in sustainability and conservation.

For detailed biographies about VIU’s 2014 Honorary Degree recipients please go to <>

The following two alumni will be recognized with Distinguished Alumni Awards:

Serene Kerpan, Distinguished Alumni – Early Achievement Award: June 3, 10 am

A 2009 graduate of VIU’s Bachelor of Arts program, majoring in Physical Education and History, Kerpan completed a Master's degree and went on to pursue a PhD in Kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan.

She won the second largest research scholarship in Canada, and plans to continue research in Aboriginal communities on how physical activity affects the brain and enhances learning in children. Kerpan is also a basketball coach for an inner city Aboriginal girls team, and helps acquire funding for the team through sport grants.

Malerie Meeker, Distinguished Alumni -- Service to Society Award: June 3, 2:30 pm

As an educator and activist, Malerie Meeker has made exceptional contributions to VIU and to society throughout her career in Powell River’s community living sector.

Retiring in 2010 as an instructor and program coordinator at VIU’s Powell River campus, Meeker continued to work on contract as an advocate for people with developmental disabilities. Her work has had profound impacts on individuals, families, early childhood education practitioners and students.

For detailed biographies about VIU’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award winners, please go to <

More information about the June 2014 convocation ceremonies and live streaming webcasts is available at <>



Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University

P: 250-740-6288 E: T: @VIUNews

Tags: Student Success