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Honorary doctorates announced for fall convocation

Frank Iacobucci, Helen Vari recognized for contributions to Canada and Ryerson
September 07, 2017
From left: Helen Vari and Frank Iacobucci

Photo: From left: Helen Vari and Frank Iacobucci will receive honorary doctorates this fall at convocation.

Two extraordinary Canadians will be awarded honorary doctorates at Ryerson’s fall convocation ceremonies.

Honorary degrees are awarded to Canadians who have made major contributions to academia and/or society in Canada and around the world; contributed to the development of Ryerson; or bettered the culture and society of the local community.

Frank Iacobucci’s tenure on the Supreme Court of Canada from 1991 to 2004 was just part of a varied career in private practice, academia, government and the judiciary. Before joining the court, he was deputy minister of justice and deputy attorney general for Canada. Previously he served as a professor and dean at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law, and vice-president and provost at the university. Since retiring, he represented the federal government in the negotiations leading to the settlement agreement in 2005 relating to Indian Residential Schools (the largest financial settlement in Canadian history). In 2013, he submitted his report as an independent reviewer for the Ontario government on First Nations representation on Ontario juries, and has worked with federal and provincial governments on major matters involving alleged terrorists, Indigenous people, Afghan detainees, and other issues. He was appointed a Companion in the Order of Canada in 2007.

Helen Vari is the president of the George and Helen Vari Foundation, founded with her husband in 1984 to promote education in Canada, and cultural and educational exchanges between Canada and other countries. Ryerson is one of several Canadian universities to benefit from the foundation, through the George Vari Award for Good Citizenship and the spectacular George Vari Engineering and Computing Centre completed in 2004. The foundation also supports health and cultural institutions and several major projects in France. Vari’s many honours include the Order of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th and 60th Anniversary Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals, and Officier du Mérite National of France.

Convocation takes place on campus October 10, 11 and 12, and is increasing from four to six ceremonies to accommodate the growing number of graduating students. Faculty and staff are invited to volunteer at the ceremonies. For more information and to volunteer, contact Marija Urbanovica at

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