Nov. 9, 2021

Class of 2021: Meet our fall 2021 honorary degree recipients

Recipients will address the Class of 2021 at today’s convocation ceremonies

This year’s honorary degree recipients will share their personal experiences and advice with the graduating class of 2021 during today’s ceremonies. 

The honorary degree is the University of Calgary’s highest academic honour, bestowed upon individuals whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition. Normally, recipients are awarded their degrees and deliver their speeches onstage as part of the live ceremonies, but this year — due to the pandemic — they recorded their addresses to convocation, which will be shown during the ceremony and livestream.

Dr. Ajay Agrawal

Addressing convocation for: the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Cumming School of Medicine, the Faculty of Kinesiology, the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Nursing, the Faculty of Science, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, the Haskayne School of Business, the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, and the Schulich School of Engineering.

A visionary leader and educator, Agrawal has transformed the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem, empowering students and aspiring business owners to pursue their dreams.

In founding the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) and its CDL-Rockies branch at UCalgary, he revolutionized the way public and private sectors interact. The CDL enables investors, mentors and researchers to collaborate and build scalable companies, helping students to action their ideas. 

Agrawal received his BSc, MEng, MBA, and PhD from the University of British Columbia. He is now the Geoffrey Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto; a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass.; a faculty affiliate at the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Tonto; and a director of the Block Center for Technology and Society at Carnegie Mellon University.

He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles on the economics of innovation and his research on the economics of AI has made him a global leader in his field. His co-authored book, Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence, was published by the Harvard Business School Press and translated into multiple languages. He also co-edited The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda, which has become a standard text for PhD students working on this topic.

As the co-founder of NEXT Canada, a program for young entrepreneurs, Agrawal has demonstrated his commitment to educating the next generation of innovators, and his relentless pursuit of learning and desire to uplift others is an inspiration to all.

Elyse Allan

Addressing convocation for: the Faculty of graduate studies, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Social Work, the Werklund School of Education.

Industry leader, diversity advocate, innovator.

Business leader and advocate Elyse Allan is an accomplished member of the Canadian business community, with a record of taking an innovative approach to tackling difficult and emerging issues.

During her tenure as the former president and CEO of GE Canada, she fostered a partnership with Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance which resulted in the development of new technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and water usage in the oilsands.

Allan is a committed supporter of Actua — a national charity providing foundational STEM skills to youth — and is a vocal advocate for increasing STEM literacy among girls. She actively mentors young women working in business and energy.

Her advocacy work and passion for advancing the country’s innovation and technology base led to her induction into the Order of Canada, in addition to being awarded numerous other business and leadership accolades. In her current role on the board for MaRS Discovery District, she is supporting building Canada’s innovation ecosystem.

Allan currently serves on the board of directors for Brookfield Asset Management and the Ontario Health Agency, and recently concluded her term as board chair of the Amos Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth — where she earned her MBA. She has also served as a director of the C.D. Howe Institute, the Conference Board of Canada, the Canadian Business Roundtable, and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Her inclusive and innovative leadership style and interest in fostering growth and learning in the next generation, make Allan an exemplary role model for future business students and leaders.

Nominations for Honorary Degree and Order of the University of Calgary recipients are open year round

Convocation banner

Congratulations, Class of 2021

Graduates reflect on their time at the University of Calgary.