Three honorary degrees being conferred during Fall Convocation


Three honorary degrees being conferred during Fall Convocation

By Communications Staff

November 8, 2023


Suzanne Fortier, m. nourbeSe philip, and Joe Clark

During Fall Convocation, Queen's University will confer honorary degrees upon Suzanne Fortier, m. nourbeSe philip, and Joe Clark.

Fall Convocation returns to Queen’s University with graduates crossing the stage and receiving their degrees in eight ceremonies at Grant Hall from Nov. 13 to 17.

Three honorary degrees are being conferred on leaders from the fields of post-secondary education, the arts, and national politics. Recipients are chosen by the Queen’s community for their outstanding achievements as well as their contributions to local, national, and global communities.

“Convocation is a wonderful opportunity to honour our graduates on their tremendous achievements during their time here at Queen’s, and to hear the inspiring words from our honorary degree recipients, who will share their wisdom with our graduates as they move on to the next phase of their lives,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane.

Honorary degree recipients

Suzanne Fortier – Ceremony 3, Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2:30 p.m.

Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University from 2013 to 2022, Suzanne Fortier had previously served as president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) from 2006 to 2013. She returns to Queen’s where she served as Professor of Chemistry as well as Vice-Principal (Academic) and Vice-Principal (Research) over her 25-year career at the university. 

Dr. Fortier graduated from McGill with a BSc (1972) and a PhD in Crystallography (1976). Her research has focused on the development of mathematical and artificial intelligence methodologies for protein structure determination. 

She has served on numerous boards and councils, including as chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), co-chair of the WEF Global Future Agenda on Education and Skills, and as a member of the Canadian Federal Minister of Finance Advisory Council on Economic growth. 

Dr. Fortier is a vocal proponent for the creation of rich learning environments that ignite students’ curiosity and creativity, equip them to be future ready, hone their leadership capacity, and inspire them to put their knowledge and talents to work to build a better future for all.

m. nourbeSe philip – Ceremony 5, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2:30 p.m.

Born on the island of Tobago in the “huddled hunchbacked hills” of Woodlands, Moriah, where the blue of sky and ocean often appears as one. m. nourbeSe philip studied at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica and took graduate degrees in political science and in law at Western University in London, Ont. She practised law for seven years in the space-time of Toronto where she still lives as an unembedded poet without ambition, essayist, novelist, playwright, reader, and thinker. Her first collection of poetry, Thorns, was published in 1980. A further four books of poetry have followed including the seminal She Tries Her Tongue; Her Silence Softly Breaks, and Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence.

Her published fiction includes the young-adult novel Harriet’s Daughter, while her dramatic work includes Coups and Calypsos, produced in both London and Toronto. Her essay collections, including her most recent, BlanK, are in the tradition of the socially- and politically-engaged poets, novelists, and artists of the Caribbean.

nourbeSe philip has received numerous awards from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council grants, including the Chalmers Award (Ontario Arts Council), and the Canada Council’s Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award (Outstanding mid-career artist).

Joe Clark – Ceremony 8, Friday, Nov. 17, 10 a.m.

The Rt. Hon. Joe Clark served 25 years in the House of Commons, including as Prime Minister of Canada (1979-80), Secretary of State for External Affairs (1984-1991), Minister of Constitutional Affairs (1991-93), Acting Minister of both National Defence and Justice, and Leader of the Opposition. He led the Progressive Conservative Party from 1976-83 and 1998-2004.  

He is a member of the board of Meridiam Infrastructure, chair of the Supervisory Board of Meridiam Africa, member of the board of GlobeScan, has served as vice-chairman of the Global Leadership Foundation, as Chair of the Jury for the Global Centre for Pluralism’s Global Pluralism Award, as an “honorary witness” of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and a board member of several Canadian and international companies and not-for-profit organizations.  

He has led international election and governance missions in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East through The Carter Center and the National Democratic Institute, and was a member of the Panel of Senior Figures of the Electoral Integrity Initiative of the Kofi Annan Foundation.

Social media celebrations

Throughout Fall Convocation, the celebration of graduating students takes place online as well. Queen’s will be using #QueensUgrad2023 across social media platforms and encourages others to do the same. Queen’s will also share photos of the ceremonies on the university’s social media channels over the week.

Learn more about fall convocation and honorary degrees on the Office of the University Registrar website.


Each of the eight ceremonies will be livestreamed and can be accessed online.

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