Honorary degree recipients named for fall convocation

A former Alberta premier, a musician and activist, and a business and philanthropic leader will be honoured this November.

By Michael Brown on September 23, 2013

(Edmonton) The University of Alberta is set to add three names to its distinguished list of honorary degree recipients whose career achievements are surpassed only by what they have given in service to Canada.

Former Alberta premier Don Getty; Canadian singing/songwriting sensation and activist Sarah McLachlan; and business leader, philanthropist and U of A alumnus Charles Hantho will all receive honorary degrees during fall convocation Nov. 19 and 20.

"A University of Alberta honorary degree recognizes outstanding achievement,” said U of A chancellor Ralph Young. “We are honoured to be celebrating three exceptional Canadians whose contributions to leadership, professional sport, industry and the performing arts may inspire our graduates."

Don Getty

After winding up a decade-long CFL career that included two Grey Cup victories as quarterback of the Edmonton Eskimos, Don Getty began a career in Alberta’s oil sector that saw him become the youngest-ever independent oil company president when he formed Baldonnel Oil and Gas Ltd. in 1964. Getty made the jump to public service three years later, helping the Progressive Conservatives form the official opposition in 1967 before the party was swept to power in 1971. He became Alberta’s first federal and intergovernmental affairs minister, a post he would use to ensure that Alberta was an equal partner in making national decisions. Later, Getty would become the minister of energy and natural resources, a role in which he established Alberta’s constitutional right to ownership of its natural resources, extolled the virtues of economic diversification and helped negotiate the first oilsands project. In 1985, Getty returned from a six-year hiatus from politics to be elected as Alberta’s 11th premier, a post he would hold until stepping down in 1992. As premier, Getty’s profile transcended Alberta’s borders as he was called upon to play a leadership role during negotiations for national issues such as free trade and the various accords regarding Quebec sovereignty, while further securing Alberta’s energy sector. In 1998 he was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada. Don Getty will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree Nov. 19 at 3 p.m.

Sarah McLachlan

Coming off of Grammy Awards for her hits Building a Mystery (1997) and I Will Remember You (1999), no star in the music industry shone brighter than Halifax, Nova Scotia-born artist Sarah McLachlan. But her influence on the music industry runs deeper than a string of hits and 14 albums since 1988 that have sold some 40 million copies worldwide. McLachlan is the founder of Lilith Fair, the historic all-women concert tour that raised more than $10 million for national and local women’s organizations and elevated the profile of many female artists. Realizing that many children had little or no access to music, McLachlan founded the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, an after-school free music education program for underserved and at-risk children from low-income families in her longtime home of Vancouver. Beyond music, McLachlan has used her international profile to raise millions of dollars for AIDS sufferers, and has put her name and much of her philanthropic effort behind a number of animal-welfare groups. She was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 1999. Sarah McLachlan will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree Nov. 20 at 10 a.m.

Charles Hantho

Charles Hantho, a U of A chemical engineering alumnus (1953), has had a long and successful career in Canadian manufacturing industries. A highlight of his career, as CEO of Canadian Industries Ltd., was the role he played in developing and implementing an industry-wide initiative for the safe handling of chemicals from "cradle to grave." A greater adherence to chemical safety had already begun to transform the chemicals manufacturing industry by the early 1980s but took on a high degree of drama and urgency with the 1984 explosion at the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, that killed at least 3,780 citizens and injured half a million more. Instantly, Bhopal became the world's worst industrial disaster and drew international attention to the hazards associated with chemicals and the responsibilities of chemical companies. As chairman of the Canadian Chemical Producers Association in 1986, Hantho led the introduction of the industry's comprehensive "responsible care" initiative to the public at large. The "responsible care" approach was quickly emulated in the United States and worldwide. Hantho was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1997. Throughout his successes as a visionary businessman, community builder and philanthropist, Hantho has never lost sight of the opportunities his U of A education afforded him. Over the years, he has been heavily involved at York University and, despite residing in Ontario, has always kept the U of A in his thoughts. He volunteered for the Faculty of Engineering’s Bridges to the 21st Century fundraising campaign in 1988 and is currently in the process of establishing an endowment fund earmarked for responsible and sustainable engineering. Charles Hantho will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree Nov. 20 at 3 p.m.