You are now in the main content area

CBC’s Dwight Drummond among 10 notable figures receiving TMU honorary doctorates

Recipients to be recognized at convocation ceremonies June 14-27
By: Lindsey Craig
April 18, 2023
Above, Spring 2023 honorary doctorate recipients. In the top row, from left to right: Rola Dagher, Michelle E. DiEmanuele, Dwight Drummond, John England, Deborah Flint; In the second row, from left to right: Lawrence Loh, Kimberly Murray, Nigela and Wayne Purboo and Indira Samarasekera.

Above, Spring 2023 honorary doctorate recipients. In the top row, from left: Rola Dagher, Michelle E. DiEmanuele, Dwight Drummond, John England and Deborah Flint; In the second row, from left: Lawrence Loh, Kimberly Murray, Nigela and Wayne Purboo and Indira Samarasekera.

Multiple award-winning CBC journalist and host Dwight Drummond (RTA School of Media ’91) and esteemed Indigenous justice advocate Kimberly Murray are among 10 extraordinary leaders to receive honorary doctorates this spring from Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU).

The complete list of recipients includes: 

The degrees will be bestowed in ceremonies taking place between June 14 at 27.

A live stream will also be available on the convocation website.

TMU awards honorary degrees to those who have made extraordinary contributions to:

  • Academia and/or society in Canada or internationally, particularly in fields of interest to the university;
  • The development of Toronto Metropolitan University;
  • The betterment of culture, society or the local community.

Below, learn more about the outstanding achievements of this year’s honorary degree recipients.

For more information about TMU’s Spring 2023 convocation ceremonies, please visit TMU’s convocation website.

Meet the Spring 2023 Honorary Doctorate Recipients

Rola Dagher, Global Channel Chief, Dell Technologies

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Ted Rogers School of Management: Tuesday, June 20 at 9:30 a.m.

Rola Dagher

Photo: Rola Dagher

Rola Dagher held various sales leadership roles at Bell Canada and Dell before becoming president of Cisco Canada in 2017. During her three years with the multinational company, the Canadian branch consistently ranked among Cisco’s top country revenue producers. 

Now global channel chief at Dell Technologies, Dagher was named one of the 50 most influential channel chiefs of 2022 by CRN magazine. She also was selected one of the top 25 women of influence in 2020, has been included in the Women’s Executive Network’s annual list of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 and was named the 2019 woman of the year by Women in Communications and Technology. Also the recipient of a Horatio Alger Award, Dagher was a RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award winner in 2019. 

Dagher is a co-founder of the BlackNorth Initiative, an active member of the 30% Club and sits on the Circle of Champions for the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, promoting growth through diversity in the workplace. A champion of mental health, Dagher serves on the foundation board for the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health, and is a member of the Kids Help Phone board.

Back to top

Michelle E. DiEmanuele, Secretary of Cabinet

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Faculty of Community Services: Thursday, June 15 at 3:30 p.m.

Michelle DiEmanuele

Photo: Michelle E. DiEmanuele

Michelle E. DiEmanuele holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science from the University of Waterloo and the University of Toronto, respectively. 

As secretary of the cabinet, DiEmanuele leads Ontario’s public service and is the top public servant reporting to the premier. She previously served as associate secretary of the cabinet, deputy minister of human resources, chair of the Public Service Commission of Ontario and deputy minister of government and consumer services. 

DiEmanuele’s past roles also include interim chief executive officer of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, and vice-president positions at CIBC and Brookfield Properties. 

For more than a decade, DiEmanuele was president and chief executive officer of Trillium Health Partners, one of the largest community-based, acute care hospital networks in Canada. Among her accomplishments, she led the merger of Credit Valley Hospital and Trillium Health Centre, and established the Institute for Better Health. 

DiEmanuele has served on various public- and private-sector boards and councils, including the transformational task force of the Toronto Police Services Board. A  member of the Order of Ontario, she has received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and has been inducted into the Top 100 Hall of Fame for the annual Canada’s Most Powerful Women awards. 

Back to top

Dwight Drummond, Journalist, host of CBC’s Canada Tonight, TMU alumnus

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
The Creative School/The Chang School: Friday, June 16 at 9:30 a.m.

Dwight Drummond

Photo: Dwight Drummond

Dwight Drummond, RTA School of Media ’91, is a veteran journalist and the host of Canada Tonight with Dwight Drummond on CBC News Network. 

Drummond has worked in broadcast news for more than 30 years, and during his career, he has received numerous Canadian Screen Award nominations. He won the 2021 Canadian Screen Award for Best News Anchor and was nominated for the award again in 2022. Additionally, while he was at the helm of CBC Toronto News, the flagship supper-hour program won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Local Newscast.

As a reporter, Drummond was known for his exclusives and filed stories from across the United States, Africa and the Caribbean. He earned the African Canadian Achievement Award for Excellence in Media and has also received commendations for his volunteer and community work. 

Drummond’s many accomplishments have been celebrated at Toronto Metropolitan University. A recipient of the Alumni Award of Distinction, he also has been inducted into the RTA School of Media’s Wall of Fame. 

Drummond resides in Toronto with his wife and two daughters. 

Back to top

John England, Naturalist, Professor Emeritus, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta

Doctor of Science, honoris causa
Faculty of Science: Friday, June 23 at 9:30 a.m.

John England

Photo: John England

John England is a professor emeritus in the University of Alberta's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. For 50 years, England has studied environmental changes across Canada’s Arctic Archipelago, conducting fieldwork from remote tent camps and mapping an area the size of Europe without roads. 

England’s work, which has involved numerous graduate students and undergraduate field assistants, has documented the history of ancient ice sheets, sea level changes, variations in sea ice and ocean currents and the sediment cores of lakes and oceans. These data, which encompass changes from the Ice Age to present day, enhance our understanding of modern global warming and position it within a critical long-term perspective. 

During his career, England has raised Canadians’ awareness of the landscape and heritage of the Arctic region, and the importance of conducting northern research. In the 1990s, for example, he proposed and successfully lobbied the federal government to establish Quttinirpaaq National Park on Ellesmere Island in Nunavut. 

An officer of the Order of Canada and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, England has received prestigious research grants and several accolades for his work. Most recently, the Royal Canadian Geographical Society awarded him a Massey Medal, which recognizes outstanding achievements in the exploration, development or description of Canada’s geography. 

Back to top

Deborah Flint, President and CEO, Greater Toronto Airports Authority

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Ted Rogers School of Management: Monday, June 19 at 9:30 a.m.

Deborah Flint

Photo: Deborah Flint

Deborah Flint held executive roles in the aviation industry for more than two decades  before she was appointed chief executive officer of Los Angeles World Airports in 2015. During her nearly five-year tenure, she initiated a $14-billion project to modernize the airport authority’s terminals, improve its runways and bring the first rail line to the Los Angeles International Airport. 

Today, Flint is president and chief executive officer of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates and maintains Toronto Pearson International Airport. Flint joined the GTAA in February 2020, at the onset of the global pandemic, and under her leadership, Toronto Pearson has received awards and global recognition for its Healthy Airport program, which monitors and manages the risk of COVID-19. In addition, Flint has developed a new strategic plan for the GTAA that will enable it to meet the growing demand for air travel.

Flint serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank and the Honeywell Corporation, as well as the North American and World divisions of Airports Council International, She previously served on the drone advisory committee of the United States Department of Transportation and chaired the oversight committee of the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program.

Back to top

Lawrence Loh, Executive Director and CEO, College of Family Physicians of Canada

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Faculty of Community Services: Thursday, June 15 at 9:30 a.m.

Lawrence Loh

Photo: Lawrence Loh

Lawrence Loh earned his medical degree at Western University, completed his residency at the University of Toronto (U of T) and attained a master of public health at Johns Hopkins University. He also holds fellowship certifications in family medicine in Canada, and in public health and preventive medicine in both Canada and the United States. 

Loh worked as a family doctor in Brampton, Ont. before becoming a senior medical leader in the public sector. For more than a decade, he held positions of increasing responsibility in Ontario and British Columbia. 

In March 2020, Loh was appointed the medical officer of health for Peel Region. He led Peel’s public health team through the COVID-19 pandemic, directing measures and efforts to save lives and to minimize the impact of the novel coronavirus in one of Canada’s hardest-hit communities. He also contributed to the largest vaccination rollout in Canadian history, working with community partners to deliver 3.3 million vaccine doses across Peel Region. 

Today, Loh is the executive director and chief executive officer of the College of

Family Physicians of Canada, which represents nearly 50,000 members across the country. He also is an adjunct professor at U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

Back to top

Kimberly Murray, Independent Special Interlocutor for Missing Children, Unmarked Graves and Burial Sites

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Lincoln Alexander School of Law: Tuesday, June 27 at 2:00 p.m.

Kimberly Murray

Photo: Kimberly Murray

Kimberly Murray is a member of the Kahnesatake Mohawk Nation. 

From 1995 to 2010, Murray was a staff lawyer and then executive director of Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto. Later, as executive director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, she worked to ensure that survivors of Canada’s Indian residential school system were heard and remembered, and she promoted reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

Murray was the first person to serve as Ontario’s assistant deputy attorney general for Indigenous justice. She also chaired the Expert Panel on Policing in Indigenous Communities, which produced the report Toward Peace, Harmony and Well-Being: Policing in Indigenous Communities.

In 2022, Murray was appointed the independent special interlocutor for missing children and unmarked graves and burial sites associated with Indian residential schools. She previously was executive lead for the Survivors’ Secretariat at the Six Nations of the Grand River, working to recover the missing children and unmarked burials at the Mohawk Institute Residential School.

Murray has received numerous awards during her career, including a National

Aboriginal Achievement Award for Law and Justice. Additionally, in honour of her many  achievements, she has been granted the Indigenous Peoples’ Counsel designation from the Indigenous Bar Association. 

Back to top

Nigela and Wayne Purboo, Philanthropists, founders of Onyx Initiative 

Doctor of Laws, honoris causa
Faculty of Arts: Wednesday, June 14 at 3:30 p.m.

Nigela and Wayne Purboo stand with a sunset in the background.

Photo: Nigela and Wayne Purboo

Nigela and Wayne Purboo are highly accomplished leaders and philanthropists. 

Nigela graduated from Western University with a master’s degree in cultural anthropology, specializing in human rights and race relations. She has devoted her time to various organizations and causes, including the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and the Toronto District School Board, where she helped to launch the Change your Future program. Nigela served on the Oakville Hospital Foundation’s board before becoming executive director of the Onyx Initiative, a non-profit organization that she co-founded with Wayne, in 2020. 

Onyx bridges the pervasive gap in the recruitment, retention and advancement of Black college and university students and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada. To date, 60 employers, including TD, Bell and Lululemon, have joined the initiative and more than 500 participants have benefitted from Onyx’s coaching and professional development support, and its access to placements and mentorships.

A serial entrepreneur in the media and telecommunication industries, Wayne has created more than $2 billion in value across three start-up companies, including QuickPlay Media. He also has held senior leadership roles at AT&T and Amazon, where he currently is vice-president of video shopping. The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, Wayne has volunteered with Virgin Unite, the Toronto International Film Festival and the Hospital for Sick Children. 

Back to top

Indira Samarasekera, Former President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Alberta

Doctor of Engineering, honoris causa
Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science: Thursday, June 22 at 9:30 a.m.

Indira Samarasekera

Photo: Indira Samarasekera

Indira Samarasekera earned a master of science at the University of California, where she was a Fulbright-Hays scholar, and a PhD in metallurgical engineering at the University of British Columbia (UBC).  

One of Canada’s leading metallurgical engineers, Samarasekera is known internationally for her groundbreaking work in the process engineering of materials, particularly steel. Before becoming the first female president of the University of Alberta, serving two terms from 2005 to 2015, she was UBC’s vice-president, research and held the Dofasco Chair in Advanced Steel Processing 

Samarasekera has led, advised and been a member of numerous councils, government committees and professional societies. Today, she is a senior advisor at Bennett Jones LLP and serves on the board of directors of Magna International, TC Energy, Intact Financial Corporation and Stelco. 

An officer of the Order of Canada, Samarasekera is also a foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering in the United States. She received the honour, which is among the highest professional distinctions for engineers, in 2014. 

More recently, Samarasekera co-authored the book Nerve: Lessons on Leadership from Two Women Who Went First (ECW Press, 2021). The book was co-written by former UBC President Martha Piper. 

Back to top

More News