June 6, 2019

Class of 2019: Health-care leader and bestselling author honoured during convocation ceremonies

Former Dinos and CFL player recognized with Order of the University of Calgary
From left: Catharine Whiteside, Greg Vavra, and John Geiger.

From left: Catharine Whiteside, Greg Vavra, and John Geiger.

At convocation, the University of Calgary recognizes a number of exemplary individuals with honorary degrees and Orders of the University of Calgary (OTUC). The honorary degree, the Doctor of Laws, is the University of Calgary’s highest academic honour, bestowed on individuals whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition. The OTUC is a highly prestigious recognition honouring University of Calgary community members who have contributed in an impactful manner to the university over a period of time.

Dr. Catharine Whiteside, MD, PhD, will have the honorary degree conferred upon her at the June convocation ceremony for the Faculties of Science and Graduate Studies.

At the afternoon ceremony Faculties of Kinesiology, Science and Graduate Studies, John Geiger will have the honorary degree conferred upon him, and Greg Vavra will receive the OTUC.

Diabetes researcher and former dean of medicine, University of Toronto

Catharine Whiteside served as dean of medicine and vice-provost of relations with health-care institutions at the University of Toronto from 2006 to 2014 and was recognized with WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100 Award in 2012.

Whiteside is an MD and PhD graduate from the University of Toronto and is certified in internal medicine and nephrology. In 2016, she was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada. Whiteside now holds the position of executive director of Diabetes Action Canada, the CIHR-Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Network in Diabetes and Related Complications.

Bestselling author and CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and Canadian Geographic

John Geiger is the bestselling author of The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible and five other books of non-fiction, including co-authoring the international bestseller Frozen in Time: The Fate of the Franklin Expedition. His work has been translated into 13 languages.

Geiger is the CEO of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society and president and CEO at Canadian Geographic. Under his leadership, the organization has achieved an iconic new headquarters at 50 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, and launched the most ambitious program in the society’s history, the Indigenous People’s Atlas of Canada.

Coach, business leader, and retired CFL player

UCalgary alumnus Greg Vavra, BComm’83, LLB’91, is a lawyer with more than 25 years of corporate experience in the energy sector.

He is no stranger to the University of Calgary Dinos football program. He quarterbacked the Dinos to their first Vanier Cup in 1983. After graduating from the University of Calgary, Vavra played in the Canadian Football League for five seasons with the Calgary Stampeders, Edmonton Eskimos and B.C. Lions.

In 2006, Vavra returned to the Dinos, joining the coaching staff as offensive co-ordinator, and can be seen on-field coaching quarterbacks. He is an active member of the Dinos Fifth Quarter Alumni Association. Vavra has spent countless hours helping the growth of young athletes at the university over many decades.

Nominations for honorary degree and Order of the University of Calgary recipients are open year-round. Nominations forms and other important information are available on the Senate website