Domine Cancelari; praesento vobis Iohannem Bragg ut admitatur ad gradum Doctoris in Jure Civile (honoris causa).
The roots of vacinnium angustifolium, the wild blueberry from which John Bragg has built a world-wide frozen food empire, do not reach deep in the Nova Scotian soil. The same cannot be said of Mr. Bragg himself, whose family has lived in and cultivated the soil of Cumberland County’s Oxford for some seven generations. In the late 1950’s, the humble low bush yielded summer picking jobs, so that young Bragg could pay his way through Mount Allison University. By 2005, when he returned to “Mount A.” as Chancellor, Mr. Bragg’s Oxford Frozen Foods Ltd. had become North America’s largest agricultural freezing facility and the world’s largest wild blueberry operation, processing nearly four million pounds per day. Within the same interval, a junior tendril of Bragg’s business vision, now known as Eastlink telecommunications, had branched away from the Oxford lowbush and into the internet nexus; in years to come it would move at higher speeds into fibreoptic cable and soar wirelessly into thin air, connecting countless customers in Eastern Canada with each other and with the world. In the two ventures for which he is best known, John Bragg’s deep concern for those who live on and off of the local soil, as well as his keen eye for the trends of global commerce, have gained him an unofficial sobriquet: “the Oracle of Oxford.” His more official titles include director of TD Bank, and his accolades Officer of the Order of Canada, amongst others too numerous to mention.
We are often told that among the many health benefits of the antioxidant blueberry is its capacity to increase mental acuity. It is perhaps no wonder, then, that Mr. Bragg has been so unstinting in sharing the fruits of his success with the brain trusts of higher education in Atlantic Canada. He has raised funds for and donated generously to both his alma mater and other regional universities. These include our sister institution, Dalhousie, where he has recently founded a Medical Scholarship in the name of Dr. John Hamm, former Premier of Nova Scotia and former Board Chair of King’s.
Nova Scotia claims the lowbush blueberry as her provincial fruit. Do these native pearls not belong to King’s as well, each as blue as the royal in the College colours, and each sporting its own little crown? And if blueberry be the College fruit, may we not also boast John Bragg, the blueberry king, a member of King’s Convocation? For his contributions to the economic prosperity of the Atlantic Region, no less than his patronage of its universities and the cause of higher learning, I ask you, Mr. Chancellor, in the name of King’s College, to bestow upon John Bragg the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa).
Domine Cancellari; praesento vobis Rosellam Green, ut admitatur ad gradum Doctore in Jure Civili (honoris causa).
The book of Proverbs tells us that “the heart of the wise teacheth [her] mouth and addeth learning to [her] lips.” In honouring the wisdom of Mrs. Roselle Green today, we admire her lifelong dedication to learning and to clear, effective speech. These sister virtues have guided Mrs. Green’s many gifts to the family, faith, professional, and academic communities in which she makes her home.
The fourth of five children of Jewish immigrants, Roselle Green’s earliest lessons were in the work ethic, traditional observances, and educational commitment that sustained her family through the Great Depression. These were also the earliest lessons she passed on to the four children she raised with her husband. Excellent teaching only whetted her appetite for further learning, and in the 1960’s she began to acquire the first of her university parchments as a part-time adult student, a pattern she followed for a Diploma of Journalism at King’s, and her Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Diploma in Public Administration at Dalhousie. This education stands at the foundation of Mrs. Green’s 37 years as a public relations consultant, including 19 as the head of her own agency. The success of this career, as well as her selfless contribution to the profession itself, may be traced in numerous distinctions. Among them are the President’s medal of the Canadian Public Relations Society, a life membership from the Society’s Nova Scotia Chapter, and a Progress Club Award of Excellence in Communications and Public Affairs.
A founding member of Halifax’s Shaar Shalom Congregation, Mrs. Green’s innovative and inspired vision, combined with her boundless dedication and leadership, continues to leave a mark on that community. It may be said that she embodies the highest values of Jewish life: a commitment to Torah, the sacred traditions and moral tenets of the faith; to Avodah, their enactment in communal growth and study; and to Gemilut Chassadim, acts of compassion, charity, and a desire to effect positive change in society at large.
Neither has Mrs. Green forgotten the community of learning from which she took her first diploma some 50 years ago. She has been a constant, cherished presence at King’s events, as well as a driving force behind the annual lecture named for her late husband, Dr. Saul Green, which explores aspects of Judaism, medicine, and humanitarianism. In 2014, at the Alumni Dinner marking King’s 225th year, Mrs. Green was inducted into the College’s Order of the Ancient Commoner.
Today, for her lifelong contributions to learning, communications and community, we welcome Mrs. Green into an order both more ancient and less common. Mr. Chancellor, I ask you to bestow upon Roselle Green, in the name of King’s College, the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws (honoris causa).
Domine Cancelari; praesento vobis Iohannem Honderich ut admitatur ad gradum Doctoris in Jure Civile (honoris causa).
At a crucial point in the play, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar boasts, “[…] I am constant as the northern star,/ Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality/ There is no fellow in the firmament.” We soon learn that Caesar’s constancy was so hard as to make him brittle, his lack of astral fellowship so isolating that he was–quite literally–cut off from the community he sought to control. How different might western history have been had Caesar a different model of stellar constancy to guide his public leadership, to connect him to the citizen interests he represented! In the Canada of our own era, citizens have looked time and again to northern lights like the Toronto Star to provide such guidance. By shining the celestial rays of investigative journalism on the corrupt, unjust and arcane, the Star has sought to bring the wayward to earth; to serve the double cause of public accountability and public information. For two decades, John Honderich has been the Toronto Star’s heart and brain. His trajectory within the paper began in 1976, when he signed on as an Ottawa reporter; by 1988 he had become Editor-in-chief. In 1994 he was named Publisher, and in 2009, Mr. Honderich was appointed to the position he now holds: Chair of the board of Torstar, a diversified media Corporation that includes a newspaper galaxy of 110 Ontario community papers, the Halifax Metro and six others across Canada, dailies in Hamilton, the Waterloo region and Guelph and, of course, the Toronto Star, the jewel in the media crown.
During his time at the paper of record in Canada’s largest city, Mr. Honderich transformed it into a progressive voice that fearlessly champions social justice issues even when those stories are deeply opposed by elected officials and business concerns. By insisting that the newsroom be guided by the “six Atkinson principles” as they apply to Canadian unity, community involvement, and responsible government, he ensures that the Star serves not only the financial interests of its shareholders, but also the broader interests of Canadian society. It is no surprise that Mr. Honderich has been widely recognized for his achievements. Among his distinctions, we might asterisk the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, and his membership in the Canadian News Hall of Fame. Yet it is particularly appropriate that King’s, with its own dedication to journalistic integrity, honour him for the high bar he has set for reporters , publishers and editors everywhere. We are especially reminded of that example through his personal benefactions to our School of Journalism, which have come in the form of campus visits and lectures, and of a generous scholarship for students from developing countries.
Mr. Chancellor, for his service to Canadian journalism and to the Canadian polity, I ask you to translate John Honderich of Torstar to our constellation of doctors. Bestow upon him, if you please, in the name of King’s College, the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa).
Domine Cancelari; praesento vobis Michaelem MacMillan ut admitatur ad gradum Doctoris in Jure Civile(honoris causa).
In his successful career in the film and television industry, Michael MacMillan has learned much about how Canadians wish to be entertained and informed. He co-founded Atlantis Films in 1978, and twenty years later became Chairman and CEO of the new Alliance Atlantis. By the time he stepped down in 2007, that corporation was running 13 Canadian television networks including HGTV, Showcase and History Television, and the Food Network. Since 2011, Mr. MacMillan has been CEO of Blue Ant Media, which owns digital media properties and magazines like Cottage Life, as well as Canadian television channels like Smithsonian and Love Nature.
By making it his business to provide edifying and delightful programmes, Mr. MacMillan has served the universal craving for recreation and diversion. Yet beyond addressing that common, and indeed humanizing need, he recognizes that a thriving polity consists in citizens meaningfully engaged with each other and with those they elect to lead them. In 2009, along with Alison Lout, he founded Samara Canada, a non-partisan charity devoted to increasing political awareness and civic participation. Thorough research fuels Samara engagement projects such as the recent “Democracy Talks,” and “The Everyday Political Citizen,” ventures that assume Canadian democracy to be strongest when people’s voices are heard, and which celebrate the unsung heroes of political engagement. True to the Samara mission, Mr. MacMillan continues to support numerous other charities and public interest causes. He is a Senior Fellow of Massey College, and a Member of the Order of Canada.
Early in the Foundation Year Programme, King’s students accompany Odysseus, a wandering Greek hero on a quest for true community. Along his way, Odysseus meets the Cyclopes, monsters who live in perfect isolation from one another, and whose very lack of community accounts for their fearsome barbarity. Later in the Programme, our students encounter Plato’s exquisitely educated Philosopher King. Despite his intellectual formation, this philosopher finds no home in the realms of abstruse thought, which he abandons so that he can govern. This return to his fellow citizens, we are told, is neither a will to power nor noblesse oblige, but an organic response to a need personally felt: he must nurture the society that made him. It is perhaps their early exposure to such paragons that gives King’s students their dual reputation: they are high academic achievers who give back. They do so in their extraordinarily responsive student government, in their socially and politically engaged journalism, and in their lifelong love of the humanities. Kingswomen and Kingsmen know that their learning is not just some precious keepsake or elite badge, but an obligation to repay with interest. Today’s graduates can find inspiration in knowing that they share their mission with an alumnus and fellow citizen like Michael MacMillan.
Mr. Chancellor, for his continued efforts to socialize the Cyclops and to democratize the Philosopher King, I ask you, in the name of King’s College, to bestow upon Michael MacMillan the degree of Doctor of Civil Law (honoris causa).