Mount Allison has a long tradition of offering honorary degrees at Convocation to individuals who reflect the vision and values of our community.  

Honorary degrees are awarded to those who are nationally or internationally recognized in their fields, those who have demonstrated service to Mount Allison or the wider community, or prominent public persons.

Four distinguished Canadians will receive honorary degrees during the 2017 Convocation ceremonies:

  • Vianne Timmons, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Regina and advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Michael J. L. Kirby, founder and Founding Chair of Partners for Mental Health, a national charity that aims to improve mental health in Canada
  • Louise Arbour, former Supreme Court justice, jurist in residence at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, and ad hoc judge in the International Court of Justice
  • Barbara Hannigan, soprano, conductor, and one of the world’s leading performers of contemporary classical music

Vianne Timmons


Vianne Timmons
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Regina

Vianne Timmons, a Mount Allison alumna, is known for her advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion. One of her particular strengths is her advocacy and empowerment of women leaders. She founded the annual Inspiring Leadership Forum, a popular event that features discussions by outstanding women leaders from around the world.

Her work in the area of disability and inclusion is most dear to her heart. She is the Past-President of the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Through this association she organized a World Congress that brought together disability researchers and workers from around the world. Timmons herself has researched and advocated for inclusive education and workplaces since the early 1990s. In honour of her national and international work in the field of disabilities and education, she received the National Inclusive Education Award from the Canadian Association for Community Living and the Red Cross Humanitarian Award.

She has also been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network for four years in a row, as well as a Woman of Distinction by the YWCA.

Michael KirbyMichael J. L. Kirby
Founder and Founding Chair of Partners for Mental Health

The Honourable Michael J.L. Kirby is the founder and Founding Chair of Partners for Mental Health — a national charity that aims to improve mental health in Canada by mobilizing and engaging Canadians to drive fundamental change.

He retired from the Senate of Canada in 2006 after 22 years of service. From 1999–2006, he chaired the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology which, under his leadership, produced 11 health care reports, including the first-ever national report on mental health, mental illness, and addiction: Out of the Shadows at Last.

Kirby was the founder of and former Chairman of the Board for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. He held numerous senior appointments in the civil service, including Secretary to the Cabinet for Federal-Provincial Relations and Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council, and was deeply involved in the negotiations that led to the patriation of the Canadian Constitution and the adoption of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Louise ArbourLouise Arbour
Jurist in residence at Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, ad hoc judge in the International Court of Justice

The Honourable Louise Arbour is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada (1999-2004), has held senior positions at the United Nations, including that of High Commissioner for Human Rights, and was Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda. She has served as a member of the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security and chaired an inquiry commission that investigated certain events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, ON.

She is currently a member of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, and the Advisory Board of The Coalition for the International Criminal Court. 

Arbour, who is a mentor to young lawyers, has received many honorary doctorates and awards. Most notably, she has been a Companion of the Order of Canada since 2007 and a Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Quebec since 2009, as well as a Commander of the Legion d'honneur, and has been decorated by Spain, Colombia, and Belgium.

Barbara HanniganBarbara Hannigan
Soprano, conductor

Barbara Hannigan is recognized as one of the world’s leading performers of contemporary classical music. Admitted to the Order of Canada in 2016, she is a regular guest with the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony Orchestra, and has performed on the stages of the Royal Opera House of Covent Garden, La Scala Milan, and Paris Opera.

Hannigan’s contribution to the musical arts expands beyond her exceptional singing abilities. She made her debut as conductor in 2011 at the Châtelet in Paris and is now recognized for “shattering classical music’s glass ceiling” in the field of orchestral conducting. She challenges attitudes that have traditionally limited women in leadership, particularly in conducting.
Born and raised in the village of Waverley, NS, Hannigan performed her first world-première at the age of 17. Since then, she has premièred more than 80 contemporary classical compositions: operas and concert pieces written especially for her, and often commissioned by her, with orchestras including the Berlin Philharmonic.

Past honorary degree recipients