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Media Advisory - Queen's distinguished 2017 honorary degree recipients to include Nobel Laureate Art McDonald

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

KINGSTON –Queen’s University has unveiled its honorary degree recipients for 2017, and the list includes Nobel Laureate and Queen’s University Professor Emeritus Art McDonald.

The honorary degrees will be awarded to a variety of recipients who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of academia, business, politics, scientific research, and the arts.

The university will present the honorary degrees during 2017 convocation ceremonies.


James Rutka (Meds’81) is a professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto and a pediatric neurosurgeon with a clinical practice at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Rutka is an Officer of the Order of Canada. During his studies at Queen’s, he was quarterback for the Gaels, leading the football team a Vanier Cup victory in 1978.

Dr. Rutka will receive his honorary degree on Thursday, May 25 at 2:30 pm.

Stephen J.R. Smith (Sc’72) is one of Canada’s leading entrepreneurs in the financial services industry. He is renowned for innovation in information technology and financial structuring in the Canadian mortgage industry. In 2015, he made a $50-million investment in business education at Queen’s in order to equip the leaders of tomorrow with the skills to sustain Canada’s business, economic, and social development.

Mr. Smith will receive his honorary degree on Tuesday, May 30 at 2:30 pm.

Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande and Jaishree Deshpande are trustees of the Deshpande Foundation, which strengthens ecosystems that create significant social and economic impact through entrepreneurship and innovation. Their joint gift along with the Dunin Foundation in 2016 is allowing Queen’s to expand its innovation programming for students through the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre.

The Deshpandes will receive their honorary degrees on Wednesday, May 31 at 10 am.

Sir David Skegg is an epidemiologist and public health physician based at the University of Otago in New Zealand. His research focuses mainly on the causes and control of cancers, especially breast and cervical cancer, and the use of epidemiological methods to study benefits and risks of medicines. He promoted discussions that led to the establishment of the Matariki Network of Universities, of which Queen’s and the University of Otago are founding members.

Dr. Skegg will receive his honorary degree on Friday, June 2 at 10 am.

Lord John Alderdice played a significant role in the development of the Irish peace process and the negotiation of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement as leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland. He then stepped down as Alliance Leader and accepted an appointment as Speaker of the new Northern Ireland Assembly. He retired as Speaker and Member of the Legislative Assembly in 2004.

Lord John Alderdice will receive his honorary degree on Monday, June 5 at 10 am.

Otto Naumann is the leading name in Old Master paintings in the United States and is one of the most respected figures in the international art scene. Dr. Naumann is renowned for his exceptional “eye” for quality and for his skills in connoisseurship.  Having made a name for himself specializing in Dutch and Flemish art, Dr. Naumann has handled more Rembrandts than any other living dealer and is the only dealer alive who has sold a painting by Vermeer.

Dr. Naumann will receive his honorary degree on Tuesday, June 6 at 10 am.

Frank McKenna has held numerous leadership positions in both the public and private sector. From 1987–1997 he was Premier of New Brunswick. He served as Canadian Ambassador to the United States from 2005-2006. He is currently Deputy Chair of TD Bank Group, Chairman of Brookfield Asset Management, and is on the board of Canadian Natural Resources.

Mr. McKenna will receive his honorary degree on Tuesday, June 6 at 2:30 pm.

Art McDonald is a professor emeritus in the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy. Dr. McDonald shared the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for his long time research and groundbreaking findings into neutrinos – sub-atomic particles considered the basic building blocks of the universe. He continues research on neutrinos and dark matter at the SNOLAB underground laboratory and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics.

Dr. McDonald will receive his honorary degree on Wednesday, June 7 at 10 am.

Fredy Peccerelli has dedicated his life to upholding human rights and dignity through the application of forensic sciences. He is an internationally renowned and recognized human rights defender and forensic anthropologist, and founding member of the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG).

Mr. Peccerelli will receive his honorary degree on Thursday, June 8 at 10 am.

Donald Bayne (Arts’66, Law’69, EMBA’01) is a partner with Bayne, Sellar, Boxall, a firm practising exclusively criminal law in Ottawa. Mr. Bayne has practised criminal law exclusively for the past 45 years.  He has been designated a specialist in criminal litigation by the Law Society and has conducted trial and appellate advocacy at all levels of courts in Canada and at public inquiries around the world.

Mr. Bayne will receive his honorary degree on Friday, June 9 at 2:30 pm.


Grant Hall, 43 University Avenue.


Anne Craig, Media Relations Officer
613-533-2877 or anne.craig@queensu.ca