June 5, 2018

Brian Jackson, Mary-Ellen Tyler, Kim Sturgess and Chan Wirasinghe share words of wisdom

Educator and CEO to receive honorary degrees; environmental science leader and transportation engineer will each receive Order of the University of Calgary
Clockwise, from top left: Chan Wirasinghe, Kim-Sturgess, Brian Jackson, and Mary-Ellen Tyler.

Clockwise, from top left: Chan Wirasinghe, Kim-Sturgess, Brian Jackson, and Mary-Ellen Tyler.

At convocation, the University of Calgary recognizes a number of exemplary individuals with honorary degrees and Orders of the University of Calgary (OTUC). The honorary degree, the Doctor of Laws, is the University of Calgary’s highest academic honour, bestowed on individuals whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition. The OTUC is a highly prestigious recognition honouring University of Calgary community members who have contributed in an impactful manner to the university over a period of time.

These distinguished individuals will address our graduating class during the June convocation ceremonies, sharing words of wisdom gained through years as leaders in their field. 

Brian Jackson will have the honorary degree conferred upon him and Dr. Mary-Ellen Tyler, PhD, will receive the OTUC at the June 5 convocation ceremony for the Faculty of Graduate Studies, Faculty of Environmental Design and Werklund School of Education. At the afternoon ceremony for the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Schulich School of Engineering, P. Kim Sturgess will have the honorary degree conferred upon her, and Dr. Chan Wirasinghe, PhD, will get an OTUC.

Teacher and science enthusiast

UCalgary alumnus Brian Jackson, BPhEd’89, is an extraordinary educator who empowers his students through his teaching and his passion for science.

Jackson has been a middle school teacher for 27 years with the Rocky View School District. Among his achievements, he has secured a $10,000 grant to introduce Learning Pods into his classroom — using iPads and MacBooks to facilitate learning in small groups. He has also secured $10,000 to develop a Robotics and Rocketry program, which enables students to build and program robots that perform real-life scenarios like helping move the Alaskan oil tanker or saving the miners stuck in a mine shaft in Chile.

UCalgary professor and leader in environmental science

UCalgary alumna Mary-Ellen Tyler, MEDes'79, PhD’88, is a professor and former dean in the Faculty of Environmental Design. She has more than 40 years of expertise in the area of applied environmental science.

Tyler has worked in both the private and public sector. Prior to her academic appointments, she worked in environmental consulting with private companies in both Alberta and British Columbia and held senior positions with the Government of Canada related to inter-governmental affairs, resource management and comprehensive land claims negotiations in B.C. She has supervised the completion of close to 100 graduate students during her academic career and has received two awards for excellence in graduate supervision.

CEO, entrepreneur and advocate for the environment

P. Kim Sturgess is the founder and CEO of Alberta WaterSMART, a services organization committed to improving water management through better technologies and practices. She is also the executive director of the not-for-profit Alberta WaterPortal Society, which provides education on key water issues in Alberta and around the world.

As the CEO of several technology-based companies over her career, she has extensive experience in technology startups and technology management, as well as in oil and gas, pipelines, and industrial products and services.

UCalgary professor and transportation engineer

S.C. (Chan) Wirasinghe is a renowned transportation engineer, professor of civil engineering, Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and former dean of the Schulich School of Engineering, who has played a key role in building its international reputation.

His achievements at the Schulich School of Engineering include: doubling student enrolment with an associated expansion in the number of faculty members, expanding the Engineering Internship Program to more than 400 placements, pioneering the Women in Engineering Initiative, and winning the 2006 Minerva Mentoring Award from the Alberta Women’s Science Network.

Nominations for honorary degree and Order of the University of Calgary recipients are open year-ound. Nomination forms and other important information are available on the Senate website.