UPEI to award three honorary degrees at May convocation

Posted: 
Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The University of Prince Edward Island will confer honorary degrees on historian and academic Michael Bliss; business person, politician and administrator Frank Zakem, and lawyer Derek Key during Convocation on Saturday, May 12.

Senate approved the honorary graduands at a meeting earlier this year in accordance with University policy that states honorary doctorates of laws will be presented to individuals who display the highest levels of achievement in public and community service.

UPEI Chancellor Bill Andrew said, 'We are thrilled to honour these distinguished individuals who have contributed so much to the communities in which they live, work, and serve. UPEI convocations are very special celebrations of achievement, and as our graduates begin to imagine how their education will lead to their own success, they will be inspired by the stories of how Michael Bliss, Frank Zakem, and Derek Key have made their mark on the world.'

Dr. Michael Bliss, CM held the elite title of University Professor when he retired in 2006 after 38 years at the University of Toronto. Formally University Professor Emeritus, he continues to write and lecture to audiences throughout North America and Europe and has recently (2011) published a memoir, Writing History: A Professor's Life. He specializes in the history of medicine and the history of Canada. His fourteen books, have received numerous honours, including all the major prizes awarded by the Canadian Historical Association, two City of Toronto Book Awards, three Jason Hannah Medals for medical history from the Royal Society of Canada, the Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine, and the National Business Book Award. Professor Bliss was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1999 and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1984. The Royal Society has awarded him its Tyrrell Medal 'for outstanding work in the history of Canada' and the American Osler Society has given him its Lifetime Achievement Award. At the time of his retirement, Canada's national news magazine, Maclean's (June 5, 2006) referred to Bliss as 'perhaps Canada's greatest living historian.' Also known as the 'leading public intellectual' in Canada, Michael Bliss has been awarded honorary degrees from McGill University, McMaster University, the University of British Columbia, the University of Toronto, and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.

Frank Zakem received his education at Prince of Wales College and St. Dunstan's University earning Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees. He also spent two years at the Grand Seminary of Montreal and completed the Management Development Program for College Administrators at Trent University. Zakem was involved in many organizations including the Boy Scouts movement and Basilica Youth Club, as well as very active in his family business and has shared these experiences in several successful books. After years of working in the family food and real estate business, Zakem spent 26 years in administration and served for ten years as Principal of Holland College. For six years, he was seconded to work in various jobs in the office of Premier Joseph Ghiz. A well-known municipal politician, Zakem served fourteen years as a councillor, deputy mayor and mayor of Charlottetown. As Mayor (1975-77), Zakem promoted a set of Heritage Guidelines for the promotion and development of the cultural legacy of the city, and oversaw the creation of the Charlottetown Development Corporation. Much of the revitalization we see in the city today can be traced to Zakem's initiatives. In the 1990s, Mr. Zakem served as Director of the Federation of PEI Municipalities. Through his many contributions to community, Frank Zakem has demonstrated a deep commitment to serve the people and the province of Prince Edward Island. Zakem was a recipient of the Order of PEI in 2009, and was honoured as Founder of the University of Prince Edward Island in 2011.

Derek D. Key, CM, QC was born and raised in Summerside and is a proud graduate of the University of Prince Edward Island and Dalhousie University. Together with his wife Nancy, Key is a founding partner in the law firm, Key McKnight & Maynard. Key's influence can be seen and felt across his community. He is past president of both the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce and of the Summerside Rotary Club. His fundraising efforts were instrumental in conversion of the City's old train station into a new Public Library. He also helped establish a 50-acre park within the boundaries of the City of Summerside. Key played an important role in the Community Connections campaign that built and equipped a new resource centre for the mentally and physically challenged and as well helped raise $13.6 million for the Prince County Hospital Foundation. The Paul Harris fellowship, the highest honour Rotarians bestow, is one of his many awards for community service. Key, a Member of the Order of Canada, was also honoured with Summerside's Citizen of the Year award for 1998, Mayor's Medal of Honour in 2003 and the Order of PEI in 2005. Derek Key's contribution to building our Island community is reflected in his clear commitment to public service, to the practice of law, to his friends and family and those in need.

The convocation ceremonies will take place in the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre at 10 am and 2:30 pm. Chancellor Andrew will confer an honorary degree on Bliss (who will deliver the address) at the morning convocation while Key will address graduates and receive his degree, as will Zakem, at the afternoon ceremony. For complete convocation information, click here to visit the UPEI Convocation 2012 webpage.

Sheila Kerry
Media Relations and Communications Officer
Department: 
Integrated Communications
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