This Year's Ceremony

Honorary degrees

Richard Light

Mount Royal University honorary degree recipient Richard J. Light, PhD, is a leading international scholar of student success and teaching and learning — areas central to the Mount Royal experience.

Richard LightLight is the Walter H. Gale Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. For more than 20 years, his groundbreaking Harvard Assessment Seminar has gathered data from students to help improve their educational experience.

His work inspired Mount Royal to implement its own Assessment Seminar in 2009.

“I visited Calgary to help Mount Royal develop its assessment seminar, and the people I met on campus were very smart, incredibly welcoming, and focused on student success, which I admire,” Light says.

“It’s an honour to be recognized with a degree in my field — education — by a university that made such a fabulous impression.”

Light holds a PhD in Statistics and has served as President of the American Evaluation Association. Recognized as one of America’s top teachers, Light was teaching statistics and policy analysis in the early 1990s when Harvard President Derek Bok asked him to survey students on how to improve Harvard.

Since then, Harvard has implemented numerous student suggestions based on hiswork. In 2007, Light published Making the Most of College: Students Speak their Minds, which received the Virginia and Warren Stone Prize for best book of the year about education and society.

“My hope is that Mount Royal University will continue interviewing students and constantly building sustained improvement,” Light says.

— Nancy Cope

Sam Switzer

Mount Royal University honorary degree recipient Sam Switzer is said to be a tough businessman with a heart of gold.Sam Switzer

The local real estate developer, entrepreneur and philanthropist has been a major influence in the Calgary community.

“I set my sights on something and I get fully involved. I put all my effort into what I believe in,” says Switzer. “The world is full of opportunities — never problems, only unseen solutions.”

With so many projects and businesses on the go, a typical person might find such a pace too much to handle, but Switzer sees the world through an exceptional set of eyes.

Carolyn Reu, secretary-treasurer of the Board of Directors for The Sam and Betty Switzer Foundation says, “Sam gets up in the morning and sees endless possibilities.”

Switzer lives to help people make their dreams a reality. He created The Sam and Betty Switzer Foundation in 2007.

“I was fortunate that my late wife, Betty, was my mentor and encouraged me to help others. I was also fortunate enough to become successful, so I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to contribute money to people who need it.’”

The Sam and Betty Switzer Foundation aims to provide funding for causes in the areas of medical research and treatment, education, culture and the arts.

Since 2008, the Foundation has provided bursary funding to Mount Royal for students who are single parents in need of financial and emotional support.

Switzer is an exemplary role model for any graduate and proves there is a parallel between entrepreneurship and philanthropy.

“It is important to remember when you’re successful to ask how you can help others to better their situation,” he says.

— Angela Sengaus