Brandt among Honorary Degree recipients

Country music artist Paul Brandt is coming to the University of Lethbridge – but he'll have to share the stage.

Brandt is one of eight persons selected by the University of Lethbridge Senate as an Honorary Degree recipient for 2009. He is among a diverse group of individuals from Alberta, Canada and around the world who have distinguished themselves through their charitable activity, community service or advocacy for change.

"Our candidates this year reflect a mix of local, national and international achievements," says Cheryl Dick, the Chair of the Senate Honorary Degree Committee. "The Senate chose individuals who not only represent the best in their communities, but also people who reflect the spirit and focus of the University of Lethbridge."

Brandt, a native Calgarian, is joined by Cochrane-based blind mountaineer Ross Watson; Lethbridge residents and community leaders Ralph Himsl, educator, and Joan Stebbens, respected art curator; Toronto-based humanitarian Dr. Samantha Nutt; national university administrator and U of L alumnus Robert Best; refugee and immigration advocate and Canadian Senator Mobina Jaffer; and Son Soubert, a Cambodian archaeologist and politician who supports orphanages in Cambodia.

Selected members from the group will be honoured at either the spring or fall convocation ceremonies. Spring 2009 Convocation is to be held May 28-29 at the University of Lethbridge.

Following are biographies of the 2009 University of Lethbridge Honorary Degree Recipient.

Robert Best – Ottawa, Ont. (Spring 2009 Convocation ceremony)

University of Lethbridge alumnus Bob Best recently retired from his position as Vice President of National Affairs for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. In this role, he has been influential in shaping much of the advocacy on behalf of Canadian universities. His leadership and commitment to higher education have made him a highly respected and sought-after presenter and consultant on policy issues and government relations.

Paul Brandt – Calgary, Alta. (Fall 2009 Convocation ceremony)

Calgarian Paul Brandt is the most-awarded Canadian country music artist in history. In addition to his musical talent, Paul is a registered nurse who practiced as a pediatric nurse at the Alberta Children's hospital. He is a highly committed volunteer and philanthropist, working with groups such as the Alberta Children's Hospital, Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child, World Vision, and Centre Street Church in Calgary.

Ralph Himsl – Lethbridge, Alta. (Spring 2009 Convocation ceremony)

A retired Superintendent of the Catholic School District, Ralph Himsl has been described as a "Renaissance man". His career in education was dedicated to serving others and challenging them to reach their full potential, whether they were students or other professional educators. Ralph initiated the 'Blueprints' process to reflect on the nature and spiritual needs of Catholic education.

Mobina Jaffer – Vancouver, B.C. (Spring 2009 Convocation ceremony)

Mobina Jaffer began practicing law in British Columbia in 1978 and was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 2001 by Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Mobina has extensive experience in refugee and immigration law, and has done much work in the areas of women's rights, peace, and security. Mobina also has the distinction of being the first Indo-Canadian female lawyer in BC, the first African-born member of the Senate, and the first Muslim member of the Senate.

Samantha Nutt – Toronto, Ont. (Spring 2009 Convocation ceremony)

Samantha Nutt is a Canadian physician with over a decade of experience working in war zones. In 1999, 29-year-old Samantha became the founder and executive director of War Child Canada. Her dedication to humanitarian work in war-ravaged nations has made positive change a reality in some of the most devastated and dangerous areas of the world. Samantha has an incredible ability to mobilize youth and has worked with students and teachers across Canada to foster awareness and activism.

Son Soubert – Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Fall 2009 Convocation ceremony)

Son Soubert is currently a Member of the Constitutional Council of Cambodia and a Professor at the Faculty of Archaeology of the Royal University of Phnom Penh. He has worked to establish responsible politics in Cambodia and has done extensive work to help children, including the establishment of two orphanages. In his political, academic, and humanitarian roles, Son has publicly taken a stand against corruption and is an outstanding example of integrity and humility.

Joan Stebbins – Lethbridge, Alta. (Spring 2009 Convocation ceremony)

One of Canada's foremost curators of contemporary art, Joan Stebbins has an outstanding record of scholarly achievement. More than 184 exhibition-related publications have come to fruition under her direction or mentorship as curator and director of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery in Lethbridge from the 1980's forward. Her dedication and expertise have established the SAAG as one of Canada's leading contemporary art institutions.

Ross Watson – Cochrane, Alta. (Spring 2009 Convocation ceremony)

An outdoor enthusiast for over 20 years, Ross Watson was the first blind climber to summit Canada's highest mountain, Mount Logan, in the Yukon. Ross is a community leader and dynamic speaker who has made numerous radio and television appearances, drawing on his unique mountain climbing experiences and an uncompromising belief in the power of personal goals, dreams, and ambition.