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January 1, 2020 | Volunteer & Awards

U of T alumni, faculty and other members of the University community are named to the Order of Canada

By Geoffrey Vendeville

The six-petaled Order of Canada medal contains a crown, a maple leaf, and the words: Desiderantes meliorem patriam

(photo by Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG)


A pioneering zoologist who championed gender equality. A church minister and politician who was part of Canada’s early LGBTQ movement and performed one of the country's first same-sex marriages. And a professor in the Faculty of Medicine who's known around the world for his expertise on diabetes. 

These are just a few of the University of Toronto community members –  alumni, faculty and supporters – who recently joined or were promoted within the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours.

The latest appointees to the Order, and promotions within it, were announced by Governor General Julie Payette (MASc 1990, Hon DSc 2001) – herself a U of T alumna. The long list of honourees with ties to U of T include alumnae such as Anne Innis Dagg (BA 1955 UC, MA 1956), a zoologist and feminist, and Cheri DiNovo (MDiv 1995, DMin 2002), a reverend and former MPP. It also includes faculty such as Bernard Zinman, a professor in the department of medicine and a clinician-scientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute who was promoted to Officer of the Order “for his contributions to diabetes research and for his development of advanced preventative therapies.”

Prominent supporters of the University and its partners were recognized, too.

Heather Reisman, the founder, chair and CEO of Indigo, was promoted to Officer of the Order of Canada “for her contributions to Canadian book publishing and children's literacy, and for her transformational philanthropy.” Reisman and her husband Gerald Schwartz earlier this year donated $100 million to U of T – the largest gift ever in the University’s history – to establish the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre and the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society.  

Heather Reisman smiles, holding books and standing in a bookstore.
Heather Reisman, the founder and CEO of Indigo, was promoted to Officer. She and her husband Gerry Schwartz earlier this year donated $100 million to U of T to establish the Schwartz Reisman Innovation Centre and the Schwartz Reisman Institute for Technology and Society (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Alumni

A number of prominent U of T alumni were  named to the Order, or promoted within its ranks, in the latest round – but perhaps one of the more familiar names to the U of T community is Anne Innis Dagg (BA 1955 UC, MA 1956), who was named a Member of the Order.

The daughter of Harold Innis, a political economist, communications studies pioneer and namesake of U of T's Innis College, Innis Dagg obtained a master's in genetics at U of T in 1956. Soon after, at 23, she arranged to stay at a farm in South Africa – using only her initials in correspondence to avoid discrimination – in order to study giraffes in the wild. She's credited with being the first to conduct system observations of a large mammal in the wild, even before Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey studied primates. 

After returning to Canada and facing sexism in her field, she promoted gender equality on top of continuing her ground-breaking scientific work. In addition to being named a Member of the Order of Canada, she's the subject of a recent documentary, The Woman Who Loved Giraffes.

Anne Innis Dagg laughs as a giraffe bends down to eat from her hand.
Anne Innis Dagg (BA 1955 UC, MA 1956), seen here at the Brookfield Zoo in Chicago feeding a giraffe (photo by Elaisa Vargas)

Other U of T alumni were recognized for contributions to everything from health care to the arts and gymnastics.

Cheri DiNovo (MDiv 1992, DMin 2002) became involved in queer activism in the early 1970s. She served as an MPP for Parkdale – High Park for 11 years until leaving politics to return to the church. The first LGBTQ critic in the history of the Ontario legislature, she was named a Member of the Order “for her contributions to provincial politics and her lifelong advocacy of social justice.”

Alumnus Larry Rosen (BA 1978 UC), chairman and CEO of the menswear chain Harry Rosen, was appointed a Member of the Order “for establishing one of Canada's most valuable retail brands.”

Duncan Sinclair (DVet 1958, MSc 1960), who received his master of science degree at U of T and went on to assume senior academic positions at Queen's University, was appointed a Member of the Order for his contributions to health care. 

Cheri DiNovo, wearing her clerical collar, smiles while sitting by a window.
U of T alumna Cheri DiNovo (MDiv 1995, DMin 2002) was the first LGBTQ critic in the history of the Ontario legislature (Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Sister Sue Mosteller (BA 1968 SMC) who received her bachelor's from St. Michael's College in 1968, was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada for her work helping people with intellectual disabilities.

Rev. James Scott (BA 1973 VIC), who graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Victoria College in religious studies, was named an Officer of the Order for his work in advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples and his advocacy of restorative justice. 

Alumna Joyce Hisey (BPHE 1951) was named a Member of the Order as a member for her contributions to figure skating as a judge, referee and mentor. 

Alumnus Stuart McGill (BPHE 1980) was named a Member of the Order for his contributions to understanding the biomechanics of the spinal column and the development of rehabilitation programs. 

Slava Corn smiles as she stands in a sports stadium at night.
Slava Corn (BA 1967 UC), was recognized for her contributions to gymnastics as a judge, administrator and volunteer (photo by Paul Cunningham/Corbis via Getty Images)

Beverly Thomson (BA 1975 UTM), who earned an undergraduate degree in psychology from U of T Mississauga, was named a Member of the Order in recognition of her contributions to the broadcast industry, volunteerism and support of health-care organizations. 

Wayne Fairhead (MEd 1988), a graduate of the master in education program who has taught at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, was named a Member of the Order for his leadership of the Sears Drama Festival and for inspiring youth to take up the theatre arts. 

Daniel Hays (LLB 1965), an alumnus and lawyer who was named to the Senate by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1984, was made an Officer of the Order for his contributions to the province of Alberta and distinguished public service, including in the Senate. 

Alumna Slava Corn (BA 1967 UC) was named an Officer of the Order for her contributions to gymnastics as a judge, administrator and volunteer.

Ken Greenberg (BArch 1970), an urban designer, teacher, writer and former adjunct professor in the master of urban design program in the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, was named a Member of the Order. 

Current and former faculty

The list of current or former U of T faculty who were named or promoted within the Order is lengthy. It includes:

Bernard Zinman, a professor in the department of medicine and a clinician-scientist at the Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute who was promoted to Officer of the Order “for his contributions to diabetes research and for his development of advanced preventative therapies.”

Mark Henkelman, a professor emeritus in the department of medical biophysics in the Faculty of Medicine,  was named an Officer of the Order for his pioneering contributions to the field of medical imaging. He's a senior scientist emeritus at the Hospital for Sick Children, director of the Mouse Imaging Centre and a past winner of the Killam Prize for his substantial contributions to the health sciences.

Mel Watkins (BCom 1952 UC), a professor emeritus in the department of economics, was named a a Member of the Order for “his contributions as a political economist and for his advocacy of social justice.” He was the chief author of the 1968 federal report, known as the Watkins Report, on the costs and benefits of foreign ownership of the Canadian economy.

Josef Svoboda holds a clump of moss as he stands on rocks in front of a glacier.
Josef Svoboda with crew taking measurements, circa 1980s-90s (photo courtesy of Steve Jaunzems/University of Toronto Mississauga)

Josef Svoboda, a professor emeritus of biology at U of T Mississauga and an expert on Arctic ecology, was named an Officer of the Order for “his pioneering research on tundra ecosystems and for his lifelong mentorship of scientists studying the Arctic.”

Robin McLeod, a professor of general surgery in the Faculty of Medicine, was named an Officer of the Order for her contributions to surgical oncology and innovations in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics. 

Shoo Lee, a professor in obstetrics and gynaecology who is cross-appointed to pediatrics in U of T's Faculty of Medicine, was also appointed an Officer of the Order for his contributions in neonatal medicine. 

Anthony Miller, a professor emeritus in the Dalla Lana School of Public Health who has also donated to funds supporting research at U of T, was named a Member of the Order for his contributions in cancer epidemiology, as well as cancer control policies and practices.

Donald Dingwell, a world-renowned volcanologist, was named an Officer of the Order for his contributions to the field of volcanology and for promoting scientific involvement in public policy. Now teaching in Germany, Dingwell began his academic career at U of T. 

Did we miss anybody? If you know of an Order of Canada honouree with ties to U of T who was announced in this latest round but isn't mentioned above, please let U of T News know at uoftnews@utoronto.ca.

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