VIU Awards Honorary Doctorates to Two Extraordinary Canadians

Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston each received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from VIU.

January 29, 2015 - 3:30pm

Vancouver Island University (VIU) has bestowed its highest academic distinction upon two extraordinary Canadians who have dedicated their lives to making Canada a better place.

Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, andMrs. Sharon Johnston each received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree at VIU’s convocation ceremony at the Port Theatre in Nanaimo on January 29, 2015.

“Their Excellencies demonstrate a remarkable standard of excellence in service which is exemplary to students, faculty, staff and our broader society,” said Louise Mandell, VIU’s Chancellor.

“We are deeply honoured to publicly recognize their record of outstanding distinction and achievement. Their contributions inspire all of us as they strive to make a positive difference in our nation and indeed around the world.”

When His Excellency was installed as the 28th governor general of Canada on October 1, 2010, his remarks focused on “A Smart and Caring Nation: A Call to Service.”

He has since travelled widely across Canada, speaking with Canadians about the importance of giving, learning, innovation and family, and asking them what they will contribute to Canada as we approach our country’s 150th birthday, in 2017.

His Excellency’s twin passions for learning and sport led to an undergraduate degree at Harvard, where he was twice named to the All-American hockey team and inducted as a hockey player into Harvard’s Athletic Hall of Fame; to law degrees at Cambridge and Queen’s universities; and to a lifelong dedication to higher education.

During his 44-year academic career, he served as dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Western Ontario, in London; as principal of McGill University, in Montréal; and as president of the University of Waterloo.

Her Excellency began her working career in Kingston, Ontario, as a psychiatric occupational therapist with young adults at Kingston General Hospital, and then as a therapist at Beechgrove, a treatment centre for young children with learning and behavioural problems.When the Johnston family moved to Toronto, she worked at the Crippled Children’s Centre in occupational therapy. 

Her Excellency conducted her studies in physical and occupational therapy at the University of Toronto. She completed a Bachelor of Science at the University of Western Ontario, a Master of Science at McGill University, and obtained her PhD in Rehabilitation Science at McGill University. She also wrote an autobiographical essay for inclusion in a collection on notable women of Montréal.

A total of 655 degrees, diplomas and certificates will be awarded to graduates during VIU’s winter convocation ceremonies January 29 and 30. Students are graduating from range of disciplines in the Faculties of Art and Humanities, Management, Social Sciences, Education, Health and Human Services, Science and Technology, and Trades and Applied Technology.

For a complete list of graduates, more information about VIU’s honorary doctorate recipients and the new chancellor, please visit

Tags: In the Community