June 7, 2018

Harvey Locke, Viola Birss, Hayley Wickenheiser and Ian Minnifee are role models to help others achieve their potential

Olympian and conservationist to receive honorary degrees; UCalgary community members will each receive Order of the University of Calgary
Clockwise, from top left, Hayley Wickenheiser, Ian Minnifee, Viola Birss, and Harvey Locke.

Clockwise, from top left, Hayley Wickenheiser, Ian Minnifee, Viola Birss, and Harvey Locke.

At convocation, the University of Calgary recognizes a number of exemplary individuals with honorary degrees and Orders of the University of Calgary (OTUC). The honorary degree, Doctor of Laws, is the University of Calgary’s highest academic honour, bestowed on individuals whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition. These distinguished individuals will address our graduating class during the June convocation ceremonies, sharing words of wisdom gained through years as leaders in their field.

The OTUC is a highly prestigious recognition honouring University of Calgary community members who have contributed in an impactful manner to the university over a period of time.

At the morning ceremony for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Faculty of Science, Harvey Locke will have an honorary degree conferred upon him, and Dr. Viola Birss, PhD, will get an OTUC. Hayley Wickenheiser will have an honorary degree conferred upon her, and Ian Minnifee will receive the OTUC at the afternoon convocation ceremony for the faculties of graduate studies, science, and kinesiology. 

Conservationist, writer, and photographer

Harvey Locke, BA’80, LLB’84, is a conservationist, writer and photographer who is a recognized global leader in the field of parks, wilderness, and large landscape conservation. He is a co-founder of the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and the global Nature Needs Half Movement.

He is a two-time alumnus of UCalgary and holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws degrees. Locke worked as a partner of a Calgary law firm for 14 years before pursuing his passion for protecting wild places.

He has played a leadership role in many successful conservation campaigns including stopping commercial logging in Wood Buffalo National Park, the six-fold expansion of Nahanni National Park Reserve, the creation of Spray Valley Provincial Park, Bow Valley and Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Parks, the full protection of Willmore Wilderness Park from industrial activity, and continues to work to protect the Flathead Valley in British Columbia. He has also been involved in protecting key parcels of private land for wildlife movement in both Canada and the U.S., promoting highway crossing structures for wildlife, and bringing wild plains bison back to Banff National Park.

Professor, and leader in renewable energy

University of Calgary professor Viola Birss has had a long and distinguished career at the university. She played a major role in the leadership and direction for setting the university’s strategic research theme, Energy Innovations for Today and Tomorrow, and has served as a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Fuel Cells and Related Energy Systems since 2004.

As a leader and facilitator, she started a cross-faculty energy conversion and storage research cluster, which has promoted integration and synergy between energy researchers across multiple faculties at the university. She has also played a key role in the promotion of women in STEM education and the encouragement of students and postdocs to become more involved in research as well as in commercialization and technology development activities.

Canadian Olympic champion and community leader

UCalgary alumna Hayley Wickenheiser, BKin’13, MSc’16, is a five-time Olympic medallist and seven-time World Championship medallist.

Wickenheiser’s ascent to the top of sport started in Shaunavon, Sask. when at 15 she was the youngest member chosen for the Canadian Women’s National Team. Wickenheiser made history in 2003 when she became the first female hockey player to notch a point in a men’s professional game with the Kirkkonummen Salamat in Finland. Her Olympic career spans five Winter Olympics, earning a silver medal in 1998 and gold medals in 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, where she was also selected to be the flag-bearer for Canada.

Dinos athlete, sports advocate, and past member of the UCalgary Senate

As an alumnus of the University of Calgary, Ian Minnifee’s (BA'94) passion for his alma mater has continued through his entire life.

During his undergraduate studies at UCalgary, Minnifee became a star player, receiving numerous individual conference and national awards. He completed his BA degree in Economics and retired from varsity athletics ranked second in all time career points (currently sixth).  

After graduating, Minnifee continued his impact, becoming a founding member of the Dinosaur Basketball Foundation (predecessor of the Sixth Man Club). From 2009 to 2015, Minnifee served on the University of Calgary Senate where he was a prominent ambassador of the Dinos Athletics program. Among his many contributions to the Senate, he was keen to find unique ways to highlight the accomplishments of Dinos athletes and coaches to the Senate.

Minnifee currently serves as a board member of the Calgary Distress Centre and a member of the Canada Basketball Foundation. 

Nominations for honorary degree and Order of the University of Calgary recipients are open year round. Nomination forms and other important information are available on the Senate website.