Former president, scholars receive honorary degrees

Former UBC president David Strangway is one of eight individuals to receive an honorary degree from UBC during this year's Spring Congregation.

Strangway was NASA's chief of geophysics and vice-president of the University of Toronto before being appointed UBC's 10th president in 1985. Early in his 12-year administration, he initiated the university's mission statement. The document served as a road map for UBC's World of Opportunity fund-raising campaign which drew $262 million in support -- the most successful Canadian university campaign for its time. In 1996 Strangway was made an officer of the Order of Canada and was recently named head of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Prominent in the professions and the community, honorary degree recipients are recognized for distinguished achievements and for contributions to the life of the university and the betterment of society.

Patricio Aylwin played a critical role in re-establishing democracy in Chile. A professor of Law, his political activism culminated in his election as president in 1989, ending 17 years of military dictatorship. While president, Aylwin focused on re-establishing democratic institutions, achieving justice for human rights violations and promoting reconciliation.

John Bell, a UBC Commerce graduate, has helped advance understanding among nations through his diplomatic service. In 1997 Bell was ambassador for Canada's Year of Asia Pacific. He has also acted as Canada's chief negotiator at the Rio Earth Summit, high commissioner to Malaysia and ambassador to Brazil and the Ivory Coast.

Alan Cairns has influenced scholarly thought about such issues as federalism and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Among political scientists, no specialist in Canadian issues is cited more frequently. He headed UBC's Political Science Dept. from 1973 to 1980.

Peter Oberlander, a specialist in regional and urban planning, founded UBC's School of Community and Regional Planning in 1962 -- the discipline's first graduate school in Canada. A member of the Order of Canada, Oberlander has acted as a consultant to the United Nations on housing and urban planning issues in developing countries.

Jeffrey Simpson is a political journalist noted for his energetic advocacy of higher education. Simpson started his career with The Globe and Mail in 1973. His writing has been honoured with the Governor General's Award for non-fiction, the National Magazine Award for political writing and the National Newspaper Award for column writing.

John Spears, a UBC Forestry graduate, has led international efforts to conserve forests as sources of biodiversity. He has worked in developing countries on behalf of the United Nations to protect the world's forests while ensuring sustainable harvesting.

P. Roy Vagelos is a physician and biochemist recognized for his leadership in science and industry. As chief executive officer of pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck and Company, Vagelos built the company's research program while emphasizing the need for ethical decision-making and a strong commitment to community health.