Fabulous foursome to garner honorary degrees at fall convocation

Published: 10 November 2011

McGill celebrates community activist, neuroscience trailblazer, and business leaders

McGill University will bestow its highest honour upon a group of outstanding individuals at fall’s Convocation ceremonies. This year, four exceptional leaders will be recognized with honorary degrees: Sheila Goldbloom, a tireless community activist whose work has improved the lives of many; Robert Wetenhall, credited with bringing football back to Montreal; Bernice Grafstein, an accomplished neuroscientist whose research has forwarded the understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of the nervous system; and John A. Rae, a business leader and philanthropist.

They will share the stage with graduating students at the ceremonies to be held on November 23 at Place des Arts. This year’s convocation will also mark the 190th anniversary of McGill and the honorary doctorate recipients will play an integral part of these celebrations.


Sheila Barshay Goldbloom, CM, CQ

Doctor of Laws

Wednesday, November 23, 10 a.m.

Sheila Goldbloom has dedicated her life to improving the lives of those around her. From the time she began teaching and studying for a Master’s degree in Social Work at McGill in 1964 until her retirement in 1992, Goldbloom has made major contributions at organizations such as Centraide, Meals-on-Wheels and the Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom, among others. Post retirement, Goldbloom has continued to help the most needy by putting her energy and expertise behind the inception of various community groups with a strong focus on improving the living conditions of the most vulnerable seniors in this province.


Robert Wetenhall

Doctor of Laws

Wednesday, November 23, 10 a.m.

In 1997, Robert Wetenhall became the owner of the Montreal Alouettes and so began his pivotal role in the redevelopment of the team and with it the expansion of McGill University’s Percival Molson Stadium. Alongside his success in business as a co-founder of McConnell, Wetenhall and Co., a New York investment banking firm, Wetenhall has also succeeded in serving his community. For the past two decades he has been a trustee of Lennox Hill Hospital, NY, among others. Here in Quebec, with the Alouettes, Wetenhall has given Quebec youth a football team whose close ties to the community has spawned programs such as “School is Cool” which encourages the province’s elementary and high school students to make positive choices.


Bernice Grafstein

Doctor of Science

November 23, 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Bernice Grafstein is a noted expert in the field of neuroregeneration research. A graduate of McGill, earning her PhD in Physiology in 1954, Grafstein has long been an advocate for women scientists and a role model for many of her women students and colleagues. Over the years, she has garnered countless accolades and was the first woman to be elected President of the Society for Neuroscience.  She is currently a Trustee and Vice-President of the Grass Foundation, which supports training and research in neuroscience. Grafstein continues to teach at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York where she has been honoured as the first recipient of the Siegel Family Faculty Award for Excellence in Research, Teaching and Service.


John A Rae, CM

Doctor of Laws

November 23, 2:30 p.m.

John Rae is the Executive Vice-President, Office of the Chairman of the Executive Committee of Power Corporation of Canada, where he has worked as an executive since 1971. Early on, he served as an Executive Assistant to the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs and Northern Development, the Right Hon. Jean Chretien, from 1967 to 1971.  Mr. Rae has been on the Board of Power Corporation of Canada since May 1988 and also serves on the boards of BNP-Paribas Bank of Canada and the Montreal Heart Institute Foundation. In addition to his business acumen, John Rae is well known for his philanthropic support in the areas of education, medicine, culture and community causes, notably at Queen’s University, the McGill University Health Centre, the Montreal Heart Institute and the Centaur Theatre.

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