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First Nations champion, film and TV trailblazers, and academic giants among those set to receive honorary U of T degrees

February 25, 2016

Toron­to, ON — Ten indi­vid­u­als will receive hon­orary degrees from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to, pri­mar­i­ly dur­ing the June 2016 con­vo­ca­tion cer­e­monies. Hon­ourees include for­mer Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor of Ontario James Bartle­man, TV pro­duc­er and “Degras­si” cre­ator Lin­da Schuyler, Toron­to Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val Direc­tor and CEO Piers Hand­ing, chan­cel­lor of the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy Cyn­thia Barn­hart, and Man­jul Bhar­ga­va, the first Cana­di­an win­ner of the Fields Medal, often called the Nobel Prize of math­e­mat­ics, in addi­tion to oth­er thought lead­ers.

“We will be delight­ed to count these extra­or­di­nary indi­vid­u­als among the hon­orary grad­u­ates of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to,” said pres­i­dent Mer­ic Gertler. “Each exem­pli­fies in a unique way a com­mit­ment to excel­lence that reflects our high­est ideals and will inspire our grad­u­at­ing stu­dents.”

A sched­ule of events for the spring and fall cer­e­monies will be released as June con­vo­ca­tion approach­es. The hon­ourees include:

Cyn­thia Barn­hart – Cyn­thia Barn­hart serves as chan­cel­lor of the Mass­a­chu­setts Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy (MIT) and is the Ford Foun­da­tion Pro­fes­sor of Engi­neer­ing in MIT’s civ­il and envi­ron­men­tal engi­neer­ing depart­ment. Barn­hart has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to MIT, where one of her pri­or­i­ties has been improv­ing the stu­dent expe­ri­ence. Among oth­er ini­tia­tives, she led the cre­ation of poli­cies for respond­ing to sex­u­al mis­con­duct on cam­pus and improved cam­pus men­tal health ser­vices. As an engi­neer, Barn­hart has made sem­i­nal con­tri­bu­tions to the devel­op­ment of trans­porta­tion sys­tems that are used by America’s lead­ing air­lines.

James K. Bartle­man – The Hon­ourable James Bartle­man is for­mer Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor of Ontario and a cel­e­brat­ed author. He has bro­ken bar­ri­ers to real­ize a life­time of out­stand­ing achieve­ments on the inter­na­tion­al diplo­mat­ic stage and at home. As one of this country’s most accom­plished Indige­nous per­sons, Bartle­man has ded­i­cat­ed him­self to sup­port­ing and advanc­ing lit­er­a­cy among First Nations com­mu­ni­ties.

Man­jul Bhar­ga­va – Man­jul Bhar­ga­va has made fun­da­men­tal advances in math­e­mat­ics, specif­i­cal­ly in alge­bra­ic num­ber the­o­ry and the the­o­ry of ellip­ti­cal curves. Bhar­ga­va was appoint­ed full pro­fes­sor at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty in 2003, just two years after earn­ing his PhD. His schol­ar­ly achieve­ments have been rec­og­nized with many awards, includ­ing the Fields Medal in 2014, often referred to as the Nobel Prize of Math­e­mat­ics. Although the Fields Medal is Cana­di­an in ori­gin, the brain­child of Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to math­e­mat­ics pro­fes­sor John Charles Fields, it has elud­ed Cana­di­an math­e­mati­cians until now. Bhar­ga­va is the first Cana­di­an-born math­e­mati­cian to receive the award.

Piers Han­dling — Piers Han­dling is the direc­tor and CEO of the Toron­to Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val (TIFF), a posi­tion he has held since 1994. Through his lead­er­ship, he has trans­formed Toron­to by cre­at­ing one of Canada’s most suc­cess­ful cul­tur­al orga­ni­za­tions. TIFF con­tributes sig­nif­i­cant­ly to Toronto’s econ­o­my and has increased the city’s promi­nence on the world stage. At the same time, Han­dling has cham­pi­oned and show­cased Cana­di­an films and film­mak­ers.

G. Venkatesh Man­nar — M.G. Venkatesh Man­nar is a leader in the glob­al fight against mal­nu­tri­tion. He has pio­neered cost-effec­tive and sus­tain­able solu­tions for micronu­tri­ent defi­cien­cies and focused on using inno­va­tion and tech­nol­o­gy to help the world’s most vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions. Man­nar moved to Cana­da in 1990 and served as pres­i­dent of Ottawa’s Micronu­tri­ent Ini­tia­tive (MI) for near­ly 20 years. Under his lead­er­ship, MI played a major role in the devel­op­ment and expan­sion of sup­ple­men­ta­tion and food for­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­grams that ben­e­fit near­ly 500 mil­lion adults and chil­dren in more than 75 coun­tries every day.

Richard (Dick) Pound – For more than 20 years Dick Pound has been one of the most influ­en­tial mem­bers of the Inter­na­tion­al Olympic Com­mit­tee. As an ath­lete, Pound was a swim­ming final­ist at the 1960 Olympic Games and as an author he has writ­ten nine books. From 1999 to 2007, Pound was the found­ing pres­i­dent of World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) where he brought deter­mined, prin­ci­pled efforts to pro­mote hon­est and fair com­pe­ti­tion, while cham­pi­oning vol­un­teerism, account­abil­i­ty and edu­ca­tion. He remains a mem­ber of WADA’s foun­da­tion board as well as one of Canada’s most-rec­og­nized fig­ures in inter­na­tion­al sport.

Robert Put­nam – Robert Put­nam, the Peter and Isabel Malkin Pro­fes­sor of Pub­lic Pol­i­cy at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty, is often referred to as the world’s most impor­tant social sci­en­tist. His work rou­tine­ly explores issues of deep soci­etal inter­est such as the nature of inter­na­tion­al nego­ti­a­tions, the con­di­tions nec­es­sary for democ­ra­cy to flour­ish, the decline of civic life as well as the caus­es and effects of inequal­i­ty. Put­nam reg­u­lar­ly advis­es heads of state and gov­ern­ment.

David Schindler – David Schindler holds the Kil­lam Memo­r­i­al Chair and is Pro­fes­sor of Ecol­o­gy in the Depart­ment of Bio­log­i­cal Sci­ences at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alber­ta. His research focus­es on the ecol­o­gy and chem­istry of aquat­ic ecosys­tems. Through­out his career, he has addressed envi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges rang­ing from lake eutroph­i­ca­tion, acid pre­cip­i­ta­tion, cli­mate change and the impacts of oil sands devel­op­ment. Schindler has devel­oped sim­ple yet clever whole-lake exper­i­ments to demon­strate the often-con­test­ed causal fac­tors of many envi­ron­men­tal prob­lems, there­by pro­vid­ing sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence to inform the pub­lic and inspire pol­i­cy changes. He is an influ­en­tial cham­pi­on for fun­da­men­tal research, edu­ca­tion, sci­en­tif­ic engage­ment and pub­lic debate.

Lin­da Schuyler – Lin­da Schuyler has been a lead­ing force in Cana­di­an tele­vi­sion for more than 30 years. Using her under­stand­ing of teenagers gained from teach­ing grades 7 and 8 and her appre­ci­a­tion of the pow­er of the mov­ing image devel­oped while a U of T stu­dent, Schuyler cre­at­ed one of the most suc­cess­ful and influ­en­tial tele­vi­sion fran­chis­es ever broad­cast. Shown in 150 coun­tries, the var­i­ous iter­a­tions of “Degras­si” have informed young audi­ences about top­i­cal issues rang­ing from bul­ly­ing to trans­gen­der iden­ti­ty. Her com­mit­ment to com­pas­sion­ate social advo­ca­cy through sto­ry­telling is tele­vi­sion at its finest.

Ger­ald (Ger­ry) W. Schwartz – Ger­ry Schwartz is a renowned entre­pre­neur and city-builder, wide­ly admired for his lead­er­ship, gen­eros­i­ty and com­mu­ni­ty involve­ment. He is the founder of Onex Cor­po­ra­tion, the largest pri­vate equi­ty firm in Cana­da. In addi­tion, he is a vision­ary phil­an­thropist and a ded­i­cat­ed vol­un­teer: his con­tri­bu­tions to edu­ca­tion, research, and arts and cul­ture have had a pro­found impact on Toron­to and Cana­da. The Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to con­tin­ues to ben­e­fit from his wis­dom and advice more than two decades after he com­plet­ed a nine-year term as gov­er­nor.


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