U of S set for Spring Convocation

SASKATOON - The University of Saskatchewan (U of S) invites members of the media to attend this year's Spring Convocation ceremonies:

May 30 to June 2, 2016

TCU Place

35 22nd Street East



This spring 3,422 students will graduate from the U of S. These graduates join a community of more than 150,000 alumni who, year after year, continue to build upon the success of those before them.

All ceremonies will be streamed live.

Convocation story ideas:

    • The U of S Alumni Association is kicking off its 100-year anniversary

    • Featured student graduates each day

    • Honorary degrees and awards will be awarded to:

        • Raymond E. Ahenakew, Honorary Doctor of Laws

        • Mike Babcock, Honorary Doctor of Laws

        • Cindy Blackstock, Honorary Doctor of Laws

        • Keith Martell, Honorary Doctor of Laws

        • Rajat M. Nag, Honorary Doctor of Laws

        • W. Eric L. Grimson, Honorary Doctor of Science

        • Hugo Cota-Sanchez, Master Teacher Award

        • Joseph Garcea, Distinction in Outreach and Public Service

        • John Giesy, Distinguished Researcher Award

        • Vivian Ramsden, Distinction in Community-Engaged Teaching and Scholarship

        • Candace Wasacase-Lafferty, President's Service Award

To media who plan to attend convocation:

    • Photographers may take photos from anywhere—except on the stage once the ceremonies begin

    • Reserved space for media is located on the second floor to the left of the stage (all other seats are reserved for the graduating students and their guests)

    • The route graduates use as they proceed to the stage must be kept clear


Detailed convocation schedule:

For morning ceremonies, the academic procession begins at 8:45 am, speeches at 9 am and graduates start walking across the stage at 10 am. For afternoon ceremonies, the academic procession begins at 1:45 pm, speeches at 2 pm and graduates begin walking across the stage at 3 pm. Visit the Convocation webpage for more information.


Monday, May 30—2 pm

Graduating: Agriculture and Bioresources, Engineering


Honorary Doctor of Laws: Rajat M. Nag

He went on to manage billion-dollar portfolios and work with thousands of people, but Rajat M. Nag fondly remembers the University of Saskatchewan as playing a pivotal role in his early development as an international banking leader. Originally from Delhi, India, Nag earned two graduate degrees during his time at the U of S, before beginning his career as an economist with the Bank of Canada and later serving as managing director general of the Asian Development Bank.


Tuesday, May 31—9 am

Graduating: Arts and Science, Distance Education Unit (Certificate in Adult and Continuing Education), University Language Centre (English for Academic Purposes and Graduate Pathways Certificate), Graduate Professional Skills Certificate, School of Public Health.


Award for Distinction in Outreach and Public Service: Joseph Garcea

For nearly three decades, Joseph Garcea has contributed in a substantial and laudable manner to the university's outreach mission. A trusted source of professional opinion and information on governance and political matters, Garcea's opinion is regularly sought and he has given over 500 interviews and commentaries to local and national television, radio and print media. He has been instrumental in the development of the Political Studies' Career Internship Program, which has provided many Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal, and international students an opportunity to work with governmental or community-based agencies across Saskatchewan.


Tuesday, May 31—2 pm

Graduating: Arts and Science, School of Environment and Sustainability, Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy


Honorary Doctor of Science: W. Eric L. Grimson

Eric Grimson, a 63-year-old Estevan native who has spent more than 30 years teaching at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is one of the province's foremost experts in computer science and artificial intelligence. He has taught more than 11,000 MIT undergraduates over the past three decades and has instructed nearly a million students worldwide through online courses. He is internationally recognized for his work, particularly in the field of medical image analysis used in the treatment of Alzheimer's and schizophrenia and computer-guided surgery.



Master Teacher Award: Hugo Cota-Sanchez

The Master Teacher Award is the highest teaching award of the university.

Since joining the Department of Biology in 2000, Hugo Cota-Sanchez has earned a reputation as one of the University of Saskatchewan's most esteemed teacher-scholars. Although many of the concepts he teaches are highly technical, Dr. Cota-Sanchez employs interactive and engaging teaching methods to make the subject matter less intimidating. His ability to connect with students, and belief that teachers must consistently assess and adjust their teaching methods, makes him one of the most popular educators among students at the U of S.


Wednesday, June 1—9 am

Graduating: Edwards School of Business, Law


Honorary Doctor of Laws: Keith Martell

As the chief executive officer of Canada's first independent Aboriginal bank, Keith Martell understands precisely how education creates opportunity. A member of Saskatchewan's Waterhen Lake First Nation and a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan commerce program, Martell went on to become one of the founders of the First Nations Bank of Canada, which now boasts close to half a billion dollars in assets and is controlled by 80 per cent Aboriginal ownership.


Wednesday, June 1—2 pm

Graduating: Education


Honorary Doctor of Laws: Raymond E. Ahenakew

Ray Ahenakew has spent a lifetime breaking down barriers while working in both the public and private sector to build business opportunities and to improve the lives of First Nations people. Ahenakew, the former president of the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, led the Meadow Lake Tribal Council team that pioneered self-government negotiations with the federal government. Ahenakew, a member of Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, was a recipient of the prestigious Saskatchewan Order of Merit and was named one of the province's most influential people by Sask Business magazine.


President's Service Award: Candace Wasacase-Lafferty

As director of Aboriginal initiatives, Candace Wasacase-Lafferty works to make the U of S the best place it can be for Aboriginal people and their communities. Since arriving at the U of S 15 years ago, she has been a dedicated team player, a role model for her colleagues, a strong leader and an advocate for students. Her knowledge of Aboriginal communities, people and priorities are keys to the university's success.


Award for Distinction in Community-Engaged Teaching and Scholarship: Vivian Ramsden

Vivian Ramsden's background spans both critical care in acute care settings and primary health care in urban, rural, First Nations and international communities. The majority of her research projects are community-based and in every abstract, publication and grant proposal, Ramsden strives for inclusivity and community voice. Elders, community members, students and support staff routinely participate in Dr. Ramsden's research, and are cited as authors at every opportunity. Her colleagues, students and community partners all note her consistency of practice, her ethics, her willingness to mentor, and the profound respect the scholarly community and public have for her work and character.


Thursday, June 2—9 am

Graduating: Kinesiology, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nutrition, School of Physical Therapy, Veterinary Medicine


Honorary Doctor of Laws: Mike Babcock

He is one of the most decorated coaches in hockey history—the only coach to win a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a world championship—but Mike Babcock has never forgotten his roots. When he returns home to Saskatoon next week, the former Huskies hockey player will add another accolade to his lengthy list of commendations and distinctions, as the U of S pays tribute to Babcock by awarding him an honorary Doctor of Laws for outstanding achievement and exceptional service to the community.


Distinguished Researcher Award: John Giesy

John Giesy has devoted his life to researching some of the most ubiquitous and dangerous chemicals found in the environment and over the course of his career has greatly improved the health of our planet and the people and wildlife who inhabit it. He is one of the world's most prominent environmental toxicologists and is the most cited author in the world in the combined fields of ecology and environmental science.


Thursday, June 2—2 pm

Graduating: Dentistry, Nursing


Honorary Doctor of Laws: Cindy Blackstock

Cindy Blackstock carried the cause of First Nations children's rights all the way to the Federal Court of Appeal in a decade-long legal campaign that culminated in a landmark decision by the Canadian Human Rights tribunal. Blackstock's battle forced the federal government to provide equal funding for child and family services in First Nations communities across the country. She will be honoured for her efforts during the final ceremony of Spring Convocation.



For more information, contact:
Jennifer Thoma
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
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