Compassionate leadership and community impact

MRU’s 2024 honorary doctorate recipients announced

Mount Royal’s convocation is set to take place from June 12 through 14. A time for celebration for graduating university students, convocation ceremonies date back centuries. The ceremonies are steeped in tradition and protocol: from the gowns, mortarboards, sashes and other regalia worn by participants to the music played during the conferral of degrees. Honorary degrees, for example, date back to the Middle Ages and are often accompanied by the Latin words “honoris causa,” meaning “for honourific reasons.” They are the highest honour Mount Royal University is able to bestow.

"MRU’s Honorary Doctors of Laws are, first and foremost, leaders and builders who have given back to their communities.The recipients have achieved great things in their fields and it is our honour to recognize their outstanding service, extraordinary standard of excellence in their work and contributions towards the betterment of society,” says MRU acting president Dr. Chad London, PhD.

"We are proud to welcome these new honorary degree recipients to Mount Royal and we look forward to the words of wisdom they will impart upon our graduating classes during our convocation ceremonies."

Mount Royal University's vision is “opening minds and changing lives,” which is reflected in all honorary degree recipients. They provide leadership and inspiration as MRU’s newest alumni begin the next chapter of their lives.


Gord Gillies

Wednesday, June 12 at 10 a.m.

Faculty of Business and Communication Studies

Gord Gillies is well-known around Calgary. He is recognized for his work in the media, most notably as a news anchor at Global News Calgary and as a host on CHQR (QR77) News-Talk-Radio.

Gillies is known at Mount Royal University for additional reasons. His wife, Kandi, worked in MRU’s Wellness Services for many years, and his son, Liam, attended the University until his sudden passing in 2020.

Gillies and his wife have turned that personal tragedy into action. An advocate for compassion for people who struggle with addictions and depression, Gillies also encourages those who are suffering from deep grief — especially men — to seek counselling. Taking part in Global News’ 2020 series Strong But Not Silent, he helped raise awareness for men’s mental health. Today, his willingness to share his journey and to support others makes him a resilient role model to the MRU community.

Gillies has strong ties to Mount Royal and has been a familiar figure on campus over the past two decades as the host of events such as Pearls of Wisdom and Big Bob’s BBQ. He also supports the University through attending on-campus events and being a member of MRU Recreation.


Eleanor Chiu

Wednesday, June 12 at 2 p.m.

Faculty of Business and Communication Studies

Eleanor Chiu, the chief financial officer of Trico Group, is a fervent advocate for community-building and social entrepreneurship, having made significant, lasting impacts within her community. Alongside her husband, Wayne, she has nurtured a family that upholds the values of compassion and philanthropy, raising their three children with a strong sense of community service and ethical business practices.

She actively supports newcomers to Canada, aiding them in establishing careers and integrating into Canadian society, notably as a founding board member and financial supporter of Windmill Microlending. Her commitment to extensive volunteer efforts includes service to her church, and supporting the Telus Community Board, the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Calgary YWCA.

Recognized for her dedication, Chiu has received multiple awards, including the Calgary Influential Women in Business Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal and the Alberta Order of Excellence — all in 2022. Her contributions to Mount Royal University are equally distinguished, where she has served as vice-chair of the University Foundation, and as a member of the Board of Governors, and the Dean’s Advisory Council for the Faculty of Business and Communication Studies.

The Chius have also contributed significantly to MRU through philanthropy, including support for the Trico Changemakers Studio, the Roderick Mah Centre for Continuous Learning and the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts.


Wayne Chiu

Wednesday, June 12 at 2 p.m.

Faculty of Business and Communication Studies

As the founder of the Trico Group, Wayne Chiu has leveraged his prominent position in the business community to champion social entrepreneurship, economic development, business innovation and lifelong, accessible learning. His unique ability to transform visionary ideas into substantial actions has resulted in significant and enduring contributions that blend professional success with societal benefits.

His steadfast integrity and commitment to community are evident in his philanthropic endeavours. Chiu was recognized with the Alberta Order of Excellence in 2018 and the Order of Canada in 2016 for his extensive volunteerism and leadership roles. He has contributed his time and expertise to numerous organizations and initiatives, including the Board of Governors at Bow Valley College, the Calgary Stampede Foundation, the TELUS Community Board, and the Premier’s Council on Charities and Civil Society.

Together with his wife, Eleanor, Chiu has raised three children, nurturing a family environment that values both business acumen and social responsibility. The couple founded the Trico Charitable Foundation, which has been instrumental in fostering social entrepreneurship. The Foundation's support was crucial in establishing Mount Royal University's Trico Changemakers Studio and funding the Roderick H. Mah Centre for Continuous Learning and the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts, further cementing Chiu’s legacy as a catalyst for educational and societal advancement.


Charles Osuji

Thursday, June 13 at 10 a.m.

Faculty of Continuing Education
School of Nursing and Midwifery

It is a long distance from law school in Nigeria to the CEO’s office at a major law firm in Calgary, but that’s exactly the path Charles Osuji walked to become one of Calgary’s — and Canada’s — most recognized and decorated legal entrepreneurs and, now at age 37, one of the youngest recipients of Mount Royal University’s Honorary Doctor of Laws.

In less than five years, Osuji has established the largest and fastest-growing Black-owned law firm in Canada. His work as a lawyer and entrepreneur developing a firm with diversity across languages, generations and cultures, has been recognized with more than 100 national and local awards and honours.

Notably, he has earned the Immigrant of Distinction Award, and been named as Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada, Best Lawyers (Ones to Watch in Canada) and LEXPERT Rising Star in addition to being recognized in the Avenue Calgary Top 40 Under 40. He is one of Canada's 100 Most Influential Black Canadians and has received the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal and the Inclusive Workplaces Award from the Government of Alberta. He has supported many community agencies and organizations through mentorship and pro-bono legal advising services.

Osuji serves as an inspiration and role model for young lawyers across Canada and abroad. As a young, internationally trained lawyer navigating the legal landscape, he recognizes the strength and creativity that emerge from embracing varied perspectives and experiences.


Roy Bear Chief

Thursday, June 13 at 2 p.m.

Faculty of Health, Community and Education

Roy Bear Chief — Oom ka pisi (Big Coyote) — is a social worker, residential school survivor, Siksika Nation elder, “Espoom tah” (helper) and former elder-in-residence at Mount Royal University who uses his own story of resilience and perseverance to help make a difference in the lives of others. He has shared his strengths as a compassionate leader and teacher with various communities, establishing him as an esteemed mentor.

Bear Chief wholeheartedly believes in lifelong learning. He completed his high-school equivalency at age 40 and a Social Work Diploma from Mount Royal at age 46. He then went to the University of Calgary, earning his Bachelor of Social Work at age 51 and his Master of Social Work at age 56. Today, he is proud to be at Mount Royal to help incorporate Indigenous ideas, concepts and practices into the University’s curriculum, as well as mentoring students and faculty.

In the wider community, he has consulted on matters such as social innovation, poverty reduction, age inclusion and equitable health care; he also works to promote the importance of Blackfoot language and culture. In 2021, Bear Chief received the MRU Alumni Lifetime Distinguished Achievement Award and in 2022, the Queen's Platinum Jubilee Award.

Bear Chief has impacted countless lives, in conversation and connection, and in doing so has strengthened the communities around him.


Hon. Ron Ghitter

Friday, June 14 at 10 a.m.

Faculty of Arts

A born-and-raised Albertan, the Honourable Ron Ghitter, CM, KC, is known for his work as a lawyer, businessman, provincial politician and Canadian senator. Ghitter is also recognized for his lifelong commitment to human rights advocacy and his role in shaping Canadian human rights legislation.

A supporter of education, health care and economic development, Ghitter demonstrated an ability to connect with constituents and understand their concerns. During his political tenure in the Alberta Legislature under the Lougheed administration, he introduced Alberta’s first human rights legislation, the Individual Rights Protection Act, marking the start of a career in the promotion of human rights that continues to this day.

Ghitter was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1993, where he continued to champion causes that were important to him and to his constituents. He advocated for policies that promoted economic growth, social justice and environmental sustainability. His dedication to these causes has made a lasting impact on the legal and political landscape of Canada.

Ghitter is the founder of the Dignity Forum, a human rights non-profit corporation that promotes understanding in the community through advocacy and education. He was also a founding director of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development.

Alongside his work to advance social justice, Ghitter is the founder of the Osten/Victor Alberta Tennis Centre, a community-based, registered non-profit tennis facility that promotes the growth of tennis in Alberta.


Hon. Lois Mitchell

Friday, June 14 at 2 p.m.

Faculty of Arts
Faculty of Science and Technology

Anyone who’s been in Alberta for any length of time will know the name of the Honourable Lois Mitchell. As Alberta’s Lieutenant Governor (2015-2020), she was a familiar presence at meetings and occasions in every corner of the province. What some people might not know is that Mitchell is also a champion of amateur sport, a steadfast volunteer and philanthropist, and a passionate supporter of the arts, culture, science and education.

Mitchell is an entrepreneur as well; she was a senior partner at Rainmaker Global Business Development, a co-founder of the Global Business Forum and one of 12 founders of Crime Stoppers Calgary. Over the years, she has served on numerous boards and supported organizations related to her profession and her passions. In 2019, Mitchell was announced as an Honorary Patron of the Mount Royal University Conservatory. In 2023, she was named President of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and made it a personal pledge to learn something new every day.

Through all of her endeavours, Mitchell has considered how she can use her capabilities to better the lives of others. Her selfless dedication to the people of Alberta has earned her the distinction of the Order of Canada (2012), Alberta Order of Excellence (2015), a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), the Calgary Women of Distinction Award (1998) and being named Citizen of the Year by the City of Calgary (2008).