UPEI Convocation 2017

More than 950 cross the stage in the Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre, joining an alumni community of more than 25,000 Panthers for Life
Saturday, May 13, 2017
More than 950 graduates crossed the stage at UPEI Convocation 2017

The University of Prince Edward Island conferred degrees, diplomas, and certificates to more than 950 graduates today as part of Convocation 2017. This year includes the first-ever cohort from the Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Design Engineering from UPEI’s School of Sustainable Design Engineering. Convocation 2017 also saw UPEI’s first graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and a Bachelor of Environmental Studies.

The families and friends of the Class of 2017 gathered for two ceremonies today in UPEI’s Chi-Wan Young Sports Centre, the first at 10:00 am, and the second at 2:30 pm.

UPEI Chancellor Don McDougall led both ceremonies; President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz addressed both ceremonies. “Each of you will be moving on to your next journey at a time of great hope and possibility for Canada’s future,” said Dr. Abd-El-Aziz, reflecting on a cohort graduating in the 150th anniversary of Canada. “I know you have bold ideas and aspirations for what Canada can be. And while you sit here today, you may have a very specific plan for what is to come next. However, the wonderful thing about this journey that we are all on is that through the various twists and turns of life, you may end up somewhere very different—and even better—than what you envision today.”

The University also conferred honorary Doctor of Laws degrees on four recipients: Judy Clark, an aboriginal leader, advocate, interpreter, and healer; Stan MacPherson, a chartered accountant, entrepreneur, and a leader in community and business; Allan Curran, an alumnus of SDU and prominent business owner; and Dr. Elizabeth “Betsy” Rollins Epperly, a world-renowned scholar, writer, and the first female president and vice-chancellor of UPEI.

“When you leave here today to celebrate with your family and friends, I hope you will also make a quiet commitment to yourself to never, ever stop learning,” said Mr. MacPherson in his address to the morning graduates. “Be committed to the relationships that matter in your lives and give back to the communities that need you. Be courageous in the face of adversity. Be gracious in the glow of success.”

“My University of Prince Edward Island has the communicating roots of an old-growth forest and the collaborative energy of a nest of stars,” said Dr. Epperly to the afternoon graduates. “I hope you realize today, feeling the collective energy of this room and of all those who celebrate with you, that an interdependent, mutually supportive, respectful community can be the founding model for all of your conscious relationships. Then, in your relational health, in your ability to build with others, may you become fully the stars you wished on and wish to be.”

“The best parts of the last few months or years have been the people we have come across here on campus and in the PEI community,” said morning valedictorian Foying Senbanjo from Lagos, Nigeria. “Look around you, or cast your mind back, to the wonderful friendships and relationships you’ve made.” Senbanjo graduated with her Bachelor of Business Administration—Co-operative Education.

Lief Wilm of Calgary, Alberta, addressed the afternoon ceremony. Of the challenges of the last four years, he said: “We could not have overcome these obstacles without the guidance from our mentors, support from family and friends, and the wisdom of our professors. I encourage everyone here to thank the people in your support system that got you where you are today.” Wilm graduated with his Bachelor of Science (honours) in Mathematics.

Chancellor McDougall conferred the title of Professor emeritus on Dr. Tim Ogilvie, a founding faculty member and a former dean of the Atlantic Veterinary College. UPEI’s first ever Librarian emerita title was bestowed, in absentia, to Betty Jeffery, long-time librarian at Robertson Library and past-president of the UPEI Faculty Association.

UPEI held its annual Senior Class Awards at a ceremony the day before, where a number of academic and student prizes were awarded. The complete list will be posted in the coming days at upei.ca/seniorclassawards. The Governor General’s academic medals were presented by the Honourable H. Frank Lewis, Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island. The Governor General’s Gold Medal (graduate level) was awarded to Robert Déziel (Doctor of Philosophy—Veterinary Medicine). The Governor General’s Silver Medal (undergraduate level) was awarded to Courtney Horrocks (Bachelor of Science—Mathematics).

The University of Prince Edward Island prides itself on people, excellence, and impact and is committed to assisting students reach their full potential in both the classroom and community. With roots stemming from two founding institutions—Prince of Wales College and Saint Dunstan’s University—UPEI has a reputation for academic excellence, research innovation, and creating positive impacts locally, nationally, and internationally. UPEI is the only degree granting institution in the province and is proud to be a key contributor to the growth and prosperity of Prince Edward Island.

Dave Atkinson
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