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Laurentian not handing out honourary doctorates this spring

The university, which is undergoing insolvency restructuring, points to pandemic as one of the reasons behind decision

As it continues to restructure its operations due to insolvency and adapt to the circumstances of the pandemic, Laurentian University opted against awarding honourary doctorates at its spring 2021 convocation ceremonies, which took place June 1-3.

The program for spring convocation features a long list of past Laurentian honourary doctorate recipients going back to 1961.

Global mine reclamation expert Margarete Kalin-Seidenfaden, the only person to receive an LU honourary doctorate in 2020, is the most recent name on the list. 

We reached out to Laurentian to ask why there are no spring 2021 honourary doctorate recipients.

“Laurentian University made the decision not to award honourary doctorates this year during the ongoing pandemic that has forced all activities, including convocation, to be virtual while Laurentian navigates through its restructuring,” said a written statement from a Laurentian spokesperson.

“We look forward to awarding a full slate of honourary doctorates next year, once convocation ceremonies become feasible to deliver on campus once again.”

Other Northern Ontario universities are granting honourary doctorates this year. 

Nipissing University in North Bay is presenting lawyer Tom Curry with an honourary doctor of letters and Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie presented an honourary doctor of letters to former provincial politician C.J. (Bud) Wildman.

Lakehead University in Thunder Bay presented former Canadian senator Murray Sinclair, PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise founder Rosalind Lockyer and businessman Donald Paterson with honourary degrees.

Laurentian’s spring 2021 convocation also differed from past years in a couple of other ways.

Degrees are normally conferred by Laurentian’s chancellor, but not this year. 

Laurentian’s most recent chancellor, TVO journalist Steve Paikin, resigned from the ceremonial post April 12. That was the same day the university made massive cuts to its programs and employees due to insolvency restructuring.

The program for Laurentian’s spring 2021 convocation also features a two-page-long list of newly named professors emeriti, many of them profs who were forced to retire due to Laurentian’s cuts.


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Heidi Ulrichsen

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