May/June 2009, Volume 26. No.3
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Honorary Degree Recipients

John Evans

Medical, academic, research, and business leader

John Evans
John Evans

Dr. John Evans is one of Canada's foremost innovators and a long-time leader in the medical, academic, research, and business communities.

After graduating from the University of Toronto as an MD, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford, where he earned his DPhil. On his return to North America, he completed residencies in Internal Medicine and Cardiology and qualified as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.  He was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (London) and a Master of the American College of Physicians in the United States.

Dr. Evans was an Associate Professor in medicine at the University of Toronto from 1961 until 1965, when at age 35 he was recruited as Founding Dean of a new medical school in Hamilton. Under his leadership, the School of Medicine at McMaster University opened in 1970, introducing students to a revolutionary system of problem-based learning, where they immediately became involved in patient care. Since that time, problem-based learning has become the preferred method of instruction in many medical schools around the world, including the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

In 1972 Dr. Evans returned to the University of Toronto and served as its President until 1978. He was appointed to the Pépin-Robarts Commission on National Unity, whose 1979 report made radical proposals for national unity.

The Rockefeller Foundation hired Dr. Evans in 1979 to undertake a study of public health and population-based medicine around the world. His report led to a job with the World Bank as founding director of its Population, Health and Nutrition Department, where he focused on reducing infant mortality in less developed countries.

John was appointed to the board of The Rockefeller Foundation in 1982 and served as its chair from 1987 to 1995. In 1983, he became the founding Chair of Allelix Biopharmaceuticals Inc., one of Canada’s first biotechnical companies. He joined the board of the media company Torstar in 1984 and served as Chair from 1993 until 2005.  He also served as Director and Chair of the Board of Alcan Aluminium Ltd from 1986 until 2002.  John was the Founding Chair of the Canada Foundation for Innovation in 1997 until 2006. In 2005, John also became Founding Chair of the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research and remains a member of its board of directors.

Currently, Dr. Evans is the founding chair of the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, an innovation centre where scientific research connects with business. The goal of MaRS is to stimulate innovation and accelerate the creation and growth of enterprises that will strengthen Canada’s position in the new knowledge-based economy. The centre opened in 2005 and will complete a major expansion in 2010.

Dr. John Evans is a Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame and the Business Hall of Fame. He was awarded the 2002 F.N.G. Starr Award, the highest honor of the Canadian Medical Association, and the 2007 Henry G. Friesen International Prize in Health Research for his longstanding contributions to medical sciences.

Richard Stallman

Free Software Advocate

Richard Stallman
Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman is internationally recognised as a leader in the free software movement, which argues that everyone should be free to run, share, study, and modify software. To understand the concept of free software, Richard says, “You should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer.”

Born in New York City in 1953, Richard Stallman graduated from Harvard with a BA in Physics in 1974 (one year before Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to create Microsoft). While studying at Harvard, Richard also worked as a staff hacker at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, where he learned how to develop operating systems. After graduating, he continued working at MIT until 1984, when he left to start the GNU (pronounced guh-NEW) Project.

The GNU operating system is a complete, free software system, upward-compatible with Unix. GNU stands for “GNU’s Not Unix.” Richard developed a number of widely used components of the GNU system, including GNU Emacs (an extensible, customizable text editor), the GNU Compiler Collection, and the GNU symbolic debugger (gdb). The GNU operating system, in combination with the kernel Linux, is used in millions of computers worldwide.

To keep GNU software free, Richard pioneered the concept of a copyleft agreement, which flips copyright on its head by saying that anyone who redistributes the software, with or without changes, must pass along to all subsequent users the freedom to further copy and change it. Richard is the main author of the GNU General Public License, the most widely used free software license in the world.

In 1985 he started the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a charity that promotes and defends the rights of free software users around the world and provides a legal infrastructure for the free software movement.

Since the mid-1990s, Richard has spent most of his time zealously advocating for free software around the world. He campaigns against software patents and what he sees as excessive extensions of copyright laws. In 1989 he co-founded the League for Programming Freedom, whose aim is to prevent monopolies in software development.  

Among other honors, Richard has been granted honorary doctorates by Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology, the University of Glasgow, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Brussels Free University), the Universidad Nacional de Salta (Argentina), the Universitŕ Degli Studi di Pavia (University of Pavia, Italy), and the Universidad Los Angeles de Chimbote (Peru).

He believes that using free software is a political and ethical decision that affirms the right to learn and to share one’s knowledge with others. By making free, high-quality software available as an alternative to proprietary software, he has benefited everyone who uses a computer.

Gwynne Dyer

Journalist and filmmaker

Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer
Gwynne Dyer is one of the world’s leading geopolitical analysts and is a prolific journalist, broadcaster, filmmaker, author, and lecturer. His twice-weekly column on international affairs appears in 175 newspapers in 45 countries, including The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay.       

Born in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Gwynne joined the Royal Canadian Naval Reserve in 1959 at the age of 16. He was educated as an historian, graduating with a BA in History from Memorial University (1963), an MA in Military History from Rice University in Texas (1966), and a PhD in Military and Middle Eastern History from King’s College London at the University of London (1973). 

As a military analyst, Gwynne has the unique qualification of having served in the naval reserves of three countries: the Canadian Naval Reserve (1959-1964 and 1966-1968), the United States Navy Reserve (1964-1966), and the British Royal Naval Reserve (1968-1973).

He began his career as an academic, lecturing on War Studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst from 1973 to 1977. During this time he began writing articles about the Arab-Israeli conflict for newspapers in London and eventually turned to journalism full time. 

Gwynne produced a seven-part radio series, Seven Faces of Communism, for the CBC and ABC in 1978. This quickly led to another radio series, War (1981), which was based on his own military experience and extensive study. War later became a book and a seven-part film series (1983), which was broadcast in 45 countries. One episode, “The Profession of Arms,” was nominated for an Academy Award.

Two of Gwynne’s television series have won Gemini awards: The Human Race (1994), about the roots, nature, and future of politics; and Protection Force (1995), about peacekeepers in Bosnia.

Other radio documentary series include The Gorbachev Revolution (1990), based on Gwynne’s experiences in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union; and Millennium (1996), about the emerging global culture.

An updated edition of his book War was published in 2004. Two other recent titles deal with the politics and strategy of the post-9/11 world: Ignorant Armies (2003), Future: Tense (2004) and The Mess They Made: The Middle East After Iraq (2006).  Another book, Fighting Decline, is set for release in 2010.

Gwynne’s latest release is Climate Wars, a book and a radio series that look at the possible geopolitical consequences of climate change, including international competition for resources, political unrest, and economic collapse. The three-part radio series was broadcast on the CBC program Ideas early in 2009.
Gwynne Dyer was the recipient of a 1984 International Film Festival Award and the 1986 Best Writing Gemini for his film The Space Between. He has been awarded honorary degrees by Memorial University, Royal Roads University, and the University of Guelph.     Lakehead University located by Lake Superior, Ontario, Canada
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