Voices of experience

May 30, 2019  —  Uncategorized

Over the course of Spring 2019 Convocation, McGill will confer honorary degrees upon 14 inspiring individuals. With an incredible range of expertise and experience – they have blazed trails in everything from poetry and theoretical physics to jazz guitar and human rights – these Hon Docs will share some of their wisdom with the Class of 2019 during their respective address.

This page will be updated daily to add new addresses, with the most recent speeches found at the bottom of the page.

Dr. Alfred Sommer
Doctor of Science, honoris causa; Health Sciences

A prominent ophthalmologist, epidemiologist, and Dean Emeritus at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Dr. Alfred Sommer is a global leader in public health.

Alfred Sommer delivers his Convocation address. Owen Egan / Joni Dufour

Dr. Sommer’s  pioneering work in studying vitamin A deficiency has helped save millions of children’s lives and eyesight. During a series of complex studies conducted in Indonesia beginning in the mid-1970s, Dr. Sommer and his research team discovered that vitamin A deficiency was far more common than previously recognized. They also found that children with even mild vitamin A deficiency were at a greater risk of death and blindness, primarily because this deficiency decreases resistance to infectious diseases such as measles. Dr. Sommer further observed that acute therapy with vitamin A, given to children with measles, a life-threatening infection in developing countries, reduced their risk of blindness and death by 50 percent.

Putting science into practice, and despite intense skepticism among his peers, Dr. Sommer demonstrated that the debilitating consequences of vitamin A deficiency could be quickly, effectively, and inexpensively prevented with oral high-dose vitamin A supplementation twice a year. As a result, the World Development Report (World Bank) declared this treatment one of the most cost-effective of all health interventions. The WHO, UNICEF, and their partners now provide annually more than half a billion vitamin A supplements to children globally, saving hundreds of thousands of lives each year.

Giuliana Elena Garzone
Doctor of Letters, honoris causa; Continuing Studies

Giuliana Elena Garzone has distinguished herself as a dynamic force in Italy and beyond in the promotion of intercultural understanding and cultural and linguistic diversity.

Giuliana Elena Garzone delivered the Convocation address to graduating Continuing Studies studentsOwen Egan / Joni Dufour

Well-known for her groundbreaking writings, Professor Garzone is currently a full professor of translation and interpreting at IULM University in Milan. She has enjoyed a rewarding professional career as an accredited translator and interpreter, academic, and researcher. A prolific author, she has published over 140 essays and book chapters, and has (co-)edited or (co-)authored more than 45 volumes.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lingue Culture Mediazioni – Languages Cultures Mediation – a peer-reviewed, open-access journal that publishes up-to-date research on multidisciplinary approaches to linguistic and cultural mediation in English, French, Spanish, and Italian – Professor Garzone has to her credit publications comprising a wide range of subjects, including scientific discourse, legal language, business communication, political discourse, and translation and interpreting. Over the years, these publications have informed and, in many cases, fundamentally influenced the study and practice of specialized communication in Italy and abroad.

Ann Dowling
Doctor of Science, honoris causa; Engineering

A world authority on combustion and acoustics, Dame Ann Dowling is an internationally respected leader in engineering research and the practical application of new technology in industry.

Dame Ann Dowling addresses Engineering’s Class of 2019Owen Egan / Joni Dufour

She is currently a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Cambridge. Professor Dowling is an authority on aircraft noise, and has been active over the last 30 years in the fields of acoustics, vibration, and combustion, with an emphasis on sustainable applications.

Ann Dowling led the Cambridge-MIT Silent Aircraft project, which published its radical new design concept in 2006 with the aim of developing aircraft whose noise would be almost imperceptible outside the perimeter of an urban airport, thus raising aircraft industry aspirations. Professor Dowling has also worked at Rolls-Royce Bristol, as well as serving on several high-impact government advisory committees and on business-university research collaborations.

Dame Ann is a strong advocate for women in Science and Engineering and a powerful role model for women engineers. She has been the President of the Royal Academy of Engineering since 2014, serving as its first female president. Her work in aeronautics and energy has been recognized by fellowships of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, as well as by foreign associate membership of both the US National Academy of Engineering and the French Academy of Sciences.

Pat Metheny
Doctor of Music, honoris causa; Music

An accomplished musician and pioneer in the realm of modern improvised music, Pat Metheny has reinvented the traditional jazz guitar sound for a new generation of players.

Pat Metheny delivers his Convocation address to graduating Music studentsOwen Egan / Joni Dufour

Born into a musical family in Kansas City, Mr. Metheny started his musical career on the trumpet at age 8, switching to guitar at age 12. By the time he was 15, Pat Metheny was working regularly with the best jazz musicians in Kansas City, receiving valuable experience at an unusually young age. It was not long before Mr. Metheny burst onto the international jazz scene, demonstrating his soon-to-become trademarked playing style. His style blended the loose and flexible articulation customarily reserved for horn players with an advanced harmonic and rhythmic sensibility – a way of playing and improvising that, while modern in conception, was deeply grounded in the jazz tradition of melody, swing, and the blues.

In addition to his accomplishments as a musician, Pat Metheny has served as a music educator. He became the youngest teacher in history at the University of Miami at only 18 years of age, followed by a teaching position at the Berklee College of Music the year after. Mr. Metheny has also taught music workshops all over the world, including at the Dutch Royal Conservatory, the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, and clinics in Asia and South America.

Over his 45-year career as a performer and composer, Pat Metheny has produced 44 recordings and won 20 Grammy Awards in 12 different categories, including Best Rock Instrumental, Best Contemporary Jazz Recording, and Best Instrumental Composition. The Pat Metheny Group won an unprecedented seven consecutive Grammies for seven consecutive albums.

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