Convocation Speakers Spring 2022

During convocation, thousands of students at the University of Calgary will mark the end of one journey and the beginning of another. To help them celebrate, this year's convocation speakers are addressing graduates as part of the the ceremonies. 

Monday, May 30, 2 p.m.  

Verna Yiu

Dr. Verna Yiu

Professor and leader in health care and medicine

Dr. Verna Yiu, MD, is one of Canada’s most respected health-care leaders. She served as president and CEO of Alberta Health Services (AHS) from 2016 to 2022. Over the past six years, she has transformed the way care is delivered to Albertans by optimizing integration of care, improving efficiencies and launching the province-wide clinical information system called Connect Care.

She successfully led AHS in its response to one of the worst public health crises we will ever know in our lifetime during the COVID-19 pandemic and gained the confidence of the more than 100,000 employees and physicians in the organization.  

Dr. Yiu has spent more than two decades in leadership roles in academia and government, including as the first female dean (interim) of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta.  

She has won numerous awards including being named the Global Woman of Vision in 2019 and being ranked second on the Medical Post’s 2021 Power List of physicians in Canada, behind only Dr. Theresa Tam, MD, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. 

Dr. Yiu is a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Nephrology at UAlberta and continues to work on the front lines, providing care to young patients and their families at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

Tuesday, May 31, 2 p.m.

Peter Tertzakian

Peter Tertzakian

Professor, author and energy industry expert  

Peter Tertzakian is an adjunct professor at the Haskayne School of Business, the managing director of ARC Financial and deputy director of the ARC Energy Research Institute. 

A respected public speaker, podcaster, blogger and author, Tertzakian has devoted his career to energy, first as a geophysicist, then as an economist and investment strategist. He has written two bestsellers — A Thousand Barrels a Second and The End of Energy Obesity — and, in 2020, launched his new project,, and book, The Investor Visit and Other Stories: Disruption, Denial and Transition in the Energy Business. Passionate about studying how society evolves its energy use and applying lessons of the past to today’s strategic business issues, Tertzakian created Energyphile to encourage people to think about the energy business in a whole new way. 

In 2015, Tertzakian was seconded to the four-person Royalty Review Panel for the province of Alberta — the world’s eighth largest producer of oil and gas — where he led the redesign of the fiscal policy. In 2016, he was inducted into the Alberta Petroleum Hall of Fame and, in 2021, he joined the board of Contemporary Calgary and the Institute of Sustainable Finance Advisory Board. 

He has an undergraduate degree in geophysics from the University of Alberta, a graduate degree in econometrics from the University of Southampton, U.K., and a Master of Science in management of technology from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. 

Wednesday, June 1, 9:30 a.m.

John Stackhouse

John Stackhouse

Bestselling author, industry thought leader 

John Stackhouse is a national bestselling author and one of Canada’s leading voices on innovation and economic disruption. He is senior vice-president in the Office of the CEO at Royal Bank of Canada, leading the organization’s research and thought leadership on economic, technological and social change.  

Previously, he was editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail and editor of Report on Business. He is a senior fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and sits on the boards of Queen’s University, the Aga Khan Foundation of Canada and the Literary Review of Canada. His latest book, Planet Canada: How Our Expats Are Shaping the Future, explores the untapped resource of the millions of Canadians who don’t live here, but exert their influence from afar. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2 p.m.

Richard Sigurdson

Dr. Richard Sigurdson

Dean of the University of Calgary Faculty of Arts  

Dr. Richard Sigurdson, PhD, joined the University of Calgary as dean of the Faculty of Arts in 2012. He has spent 25 years in academic and administrative roles in universities across Canada. Dr. Sigurdson earned his BA and MA from the University of Manitoba and his PhD from the University of Toronto. Thompson Rivers University recognized him in 2005 when it awarded the Dean Richard Sigurdson Award for Excellence in Teaching in his honour, and he was cited by Maclean’s magazine as a top teacher while at the University of New Brunswick.  

He has written dozens of peer-reviewed papers, contributed to several books, and is the author of Jacob Burckhardt’s Social and Political Thought (U of T Press, 2004). He remains active as a political theorist with a recent research focus on the politics of nationalism, specifically on national identity and how it affects public policies on immigration in different countries. 

Thursday, June 2, 9:30 a.m.

Naheed Nenshi

Naheed Nenshi

Former mayor of the City of Calgary 

Naheed K. Nenshi, A’paistootsiipsii to the Blackfoot Confederacy and IItiya to the Tsuut’ina Nation, served as Calgary’s mayor for three terms between 2010 and 2021. During his time, Calgary became one of the greatest cities in the world, named as the best city in which to live in the Western Hemisphere.  

Nenshi, BComm’93, was awarded the World Mayor Prize as the best mayor in the world in 2014 by The City Mayors Foundation. He also has received the Humanitarian Award from the Canadian Psychological Association for his contribution to community mental health. Maclean’s magazine once called him the second-most influential person in Canada after the prime minister, much to the amusement of his mother.  

Prior to his election, Nenshi served as Canada’s first tenured professor of nonprofit management at the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University. He was a management consultant for McKinsey & Company and ran his own firm, The Ascend Group.  

Nenshi is a graduate of the University of Calgary, where he served as president of the Students’ Union, and he holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where he studied as a Kennedy Fellow. He is a proud first-generation Canadian of Indian ancestry, whose parents immigrated from Tanzania. His family and his Ismaili Muslim faith instilled in him the ethic of seva — service to the community — something he tries to live every day. 

Thursday, June 2, 2 p.m.

Penny Werthner

Dr. Penny Werthner

Dean of the University of Calgary Faculty of Kinesiology  

Dr. Penny Werthner, PhD, is a professor and dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology, which is currently ranked No. 1 for Schools of Sport Science in North America, for the third time, and No. 10 globally. She has served in this position since 2012. Her research is in the area of lifelong and social learning, particularly in the area of high-performance coaches; leadership, particularly women’s leadership experiences and learning; and heart rate variability biofeedback and neurofeedback for optimal performance in high-performance sport.  

Dr. Werthner is a former Olympic athlete, representing Canada at the 1976 Summer Olympics in the women’s 1,500 m (and would have attended the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, if Canada had not boycotted the Games). She won medals in two Pan American Games and one Commonwealth Games. Dr. Werthner is also recognized as one of Canada’s most distinguished practitioners in the field of sport psychology and leadership behaviour. She has worked with many Olympic-level athletes, coaches and teams over several decades.