By Eric Lam
Business and Technology Editor
Ryerson’s newest batch of honourary doctors includes an ex-lieutenant governor, a computer whiz and an internationally-renowned Canadian director.
“This is one of the great perks of my job,” said Ryerson President Sheldon Levy, who personally informs every recipient of the school’s highest honour. “It’s always a very good feeling.”
Announced Monday, the seven honourees will pick up their doctorates during spring Convocation. Among them will be Norman Jewison, an Oscar-winning director and Toronto native.
Other winners include Margaret Norrie McCain, former lieutenant governor of New Brunswick, and Lotfi Asker Zadeh, a computer scientist.
Jewison, 81, received the Oscar’s lifetime achievement award in 1999. He has also been nominated for Best Director for Moonstruck, Fiddler on the Roof and In the Heat of the Night.
The director, who is out of the country, could not be reached for comment.
Levy said he had first called Jewison last year, but he could not come to Ryerson to accept his doctorate until now.
Dominic D’Alessandro, who is also a recipient, is the president and CEO of Manulife Financial.
The company is the current health and dental provider for the Ryerson Students’ Union and has donated about $114,000 to the school in the past, but the school is quick to point out the whole process is above-board.
“It’s a division of church and state situation,” said Bob Baker, one of Ryerson’s chief fundraisers.
He said Manulife has maintained a relationship with the school for almost 30 years, and its most recent donation ($50,000 in 2007) went towards student awards.
Baker doesn’t submit lists of recent donors to the Senate awards committee. “One doesn’t impact on another at all,” he said.
The Senate Academic Awards and Ceremonials committee is chaired by Provost Alan Shepard and includes more than a dozen staff, faculty and students.
The group asks for nominations in September each year and then produces a final list of names.
Anybody can be nominated, with certain restrictions mentioned on the application form.
Levy has not had a problem with the committee’s choices, even after controversial recipient Margaret Somerville was greeted with protesters when she picked up her doctorate in June 2006.
Somerville has been an outspoken critic of same-sex marriage and the situation received widespread coverage in the mainstream press.