Mount Royal University bestows Honorary Doctors of Laws as in-person Convocation ceremonies return

June 3, 2022

Music icon Jann Arden; broadcaster Harnarayan Singh; business leader and philanthropist Don Taylor, business and community leader Cathy Williams, and Indigenous elder and advisor Doreen Spence received Honorary Doctors of Laws from Mount Royal University for their outstanding achievements and community service as Mount Royal celebrated the time-honoured tradition of convocation June 1, 2 and 3. The ceremonies were the first held in-person in two years.

“Through observing your successes, I have learned what Mount Royal students are capable of when tested. You are now ready to go out and use your education to make a difference and contribute the unique value that only you have to offer this world,” Tim Rahilly, President and Vice-Chancellor of MRU told graduates.

“Education is a remarkable thing because once you have it, it’s yours to keep. You all have it. It lives in you and will only get stronger as you grow and evolve. It gets deeper and more robust with many more layers as you leave here and encounter many other rich experiences and challenges.”

An honorary degree is the highest symbol of recognition that Mount Royal can bestow upon an individual. As part of the celebrations, each recipient addressed graduates and guests during separate convocation ceremonies. Out of 2,217 eligible graduates (including many from the postponed Fall Convocation) an estimated 1,300 returned to campus to participate in one of six ceremonies over three days. The ceremonies returned to their customary indoor setting after a successful outdoor Convocation in 2021 due to COVID-19.

While Arden has enjoyed commercial and critical success in the Canadian music and entertainment industries, she feels her achievements are, in part, a result of not being afraid to fail. “I can’t think of an experience that didn’t benefit from being resilient and being steadfast. I’ve learned so much from failing over the years, and I fail much more than I succeed. My Dad used to say, ‘If you’re not failing, you’re not trying,’” Arden recalls. “That’s always stuck with me.”

  • Harnarayan Singh, sports broadcaster, journalist, author and member of Sportsnet’s Hockey Night in Canada team, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on Wednesday, June 1. Singh received the Canadian Ethnic Media Association (CEMA) award for excellence in television; was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada for his contributions to Canadian society. His memoir, One Game at at Time, was published in 2020.
  • Doreen Spence, Indigenous elder, teacher and advisor to MRU, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on Wednesday, June 1 Spence was one of the first Indigenous women in Canada to graduate as a Licensed Practical Nurse and has been an advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ rights. She was Canada’s representative and presiding Elder to the United Nations Working Group of Indigenous Populations.
  • Don Taylor, business leader and philanthropist who built Engineered Air into a thriving global enterprise received Honorary Doctor of Laws on Thursday, June 2. Taylor became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2016. He was also inducted into the Alberta Business Hall of Fame in 2007. Taylor has supported a wide range of philanthropic investments through the Taylor Family Foundation with a particular focus on education to benefit the Mount Royal community.
  • Cathy Williams, business and community leader and current owner and managing director of Options Canada, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on Friday, June 3. Williams served on the Mount Royal University Board of Governors from 2003 until 2010 and as Board Chair from 2007 to 2010. She was Board Chair as the institution successfully completed the process to earn approval for moving to university status in 2009.
  • Jann Arden, award-winning and multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter, author and actor, and member of the Order of Canada, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws on Friday, June.  Arden’s television series, Jann, is Canada's most popular comedy TV series. She has recorded 15 albums, including her latest Descendant. Whether she is captivating audiences with her heartfelt music, entertaining them with her quick wit or sharing her written word in a boldly honest voice, Arden is a Canadian original — a brilliant multidimensional talent.

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