Olympic organizer, TV rant-er, Gen X author, astronaut to receive UBC honorary degrees

The architect of Canada’s Golden 2010 Games, a much-loved Canadian comedian, an acclaimed B.C. writer and artist, and an accomplished astronaut and engineer are among the 12 individuals who will receive honorary degrees during Spring and Fall ceremonies this year from the University of British Columbia.

Honorary degrees are intended to recognize individuals who have made substantial contributions to society at the provincial, national and/or international levels. The degrees will be awarded during the Vancouver campus Spring Congregation (May 26 to June 2) and Fall Congregation (Nov. 24 to Nov. 26).

John Furlong is the CEO of VANOC, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. He oversees the team that put on the Olympic Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., and that will present the Paralympics from March 12 to March 21. Furlong, who came to Canada from Ireland more than three decades ago, was also the President and COO for the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation.

Rick Mercer

Rick Mercer

Rick Mercer is a Canadian comedian, TV personality and political satirist. He is the co-creator of the popular This Hour has 22 Minutes and host of The Rick Mercer Report. Mercer has received more than 20 Gemini awards. He is co-chair of the Spread the Net campaign, which provides bed nets to protect children in Africa from malaria. Mercer is also an advocate for the environment and people living with HIV/AIDS.


Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland is a Vancouver-based writer and artist whose work speaks of ourselves and our times. He is perhaps best known for his first novel, Generation X, which became a major cultural phenomenon after being published in 1990. Since then, he has published nearly 20 more works of fiction and non-fiction, and he has been involved in television, film and theatrical work. An established visual artist, Coupland has shown at dozens of exhibitions and installations in galleries in Canada and around the world.

Julie Payette, who will receive her degree in the Fall, was Chief Astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency from 2000 to 2007. In 1992, the agency chose Payette from thousands of candidates to serve as one of four astronauts. Payette flew aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1999, and aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2009. Payette helped carry the Olympic flag during the Opening Ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

Other Vancouver campus recipients, in alphabetical order:

  • Dr. James C. Hogg, founder of the Pulmonary Research Laboratory at St. Paul’s Hospital (renamed in 2003) and a member of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame
  • Maria Klawe, a former Dean of Science at UBC and the President of Harvey Mudd College in California
  • Alanis Obomsawin, a distinguished documentary filmmaker and advocate for Aboriginal filmmaking
  • Louis Nirenberg (Fall recipient), an exceptional mathematician and committed educator
  • Dal Richards, the leader of the Dal Richards Orchestra, which has performed at the Pacific National Exhibition for 70 consecutive years
  • Ian Wallace, an artist, theorist and scholar who has taught and mentored some of Vancouver’s most noteworthy artists
  • Ibrahim Gedeon, Chief Technology Officer at TELUS Communications Inc.
  • Dr. Nora Volkow, an internationally recognized leader in addiction medicine and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

UBC’s Okanagan campus holds its Convocation ceremony on June 11, and will award an honorary degree to Dr. Samantha Nutt, founder of the humanitarian organization War Child Canada. See: http://web.ubc.ca/okanagan/publicaffairs/mediareleases/2010/mr-10-022.html

For ceremony schedules visit: www.graduation.ubc.ca


Randy Schmidt
UBC Public Affairs
Tel: 604.822.1266
Email: randy.schmidt@ubc.ca