Five exceptional people to be honoured at Spring Convocation

Chrétien, Moroni, Sawyer and Buhlers to receive honorary degrees

WINNIPEG, MB – The University of Winnipeg is honoured to present five exceptional people who have left their mark in the world of politics, arts, business and philanthropy with honourary degrees at Spring Convocation June 11 and June 12, 2014. Recipients include: Jean Chrétien, former Prime Minister of Canada; David Moroni, dancer and founder of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s professional division; Robert J. Sawyer, best-selling science fiction author; and John and Bonnie Buhler, entrepreneurs and generous philanthropists.

“These five extraordinary people remind us that it is often those from humble beginnings who grow to shape our communities and leave a lasting legacy,” said Dr. Lloyd Axworthy, President and Vice-Chancellor, UWinnipeg. “It takes tremendous tenacity and resourcefulness to lead a complex country, create a new school of dance, write fiction for the global marketplace, and build a business empire Jean Chrétien, David Moroni, Robert Sawyer and John and Bonnie Buhler serve as inspiring role models to us all.”


David Moroni, Honorary Doctor of Letters – Wednesday, June 11 at 2:30 pm

David Moroni served as a Principal Dancer of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) and founder of the RWB School Professional Division. Thanks to his vision, countless classical ballet dancers trained in Winnipeg now work on stages all over the world. Moroni joined the RWB in 1964 and became a Principal Dancer in 1968. In 1970 the RWB Board of Directors and then Artistic Director Arnold Spohr decided that a professional level training school was needed to develop local talent and strengthen the company. Moroni was asked to take on this enormous challenge and responsibility. Sacrificing his performing career, he embarked on what would become his life’s work.

Jean Chrétien – Honorary Doctor of Laws – Thursday, June 12 at 9:30 am

Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien is one of Canada’s most successful political leaders, serving as our 20th Prime Minister from 1993 to 2003. The “little guy from Shawinigan”, a law graduate from Université Laval, was first elected to the House of Commons in 1963 and served in various cabinet posts under prime ministers Pearson and Trudeau, most notably as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Minister of Justice – where he negotiated the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — and Minister of Finance. In 1990, Jean Chrétien became leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and led the party to majority governments in 1993, 1997 and 2000.

Robert J. Sawyer, Honorary Doctor of of Laws – Thursday, June 12 at 2:30 pm

Named the ‘the dean of Canadian science fiction’ by The Ottawa Citizen, Robert J. Sawyer is a revered bestselling author in Canada and among the most distinguished in the world.  Sawyer is one of very few around the globe to hold the triple crown of science fiction writing awards: the Hugo; the Nebula, a.k.a. “the Academy Award” of science fiction; and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He also has won the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Award (“the Aurora”) a record 14 times. One of his best known works is Flashforward.

John and Bonnie Buhler, Honorary Doctor of Laws – Thursday, June 12 at 2:30 pm

John and Bonita (Bonnie) Buhler are well known Manitoba entrepreneurs and philanthropists, committed to using their means to build a better community. In 1969 John Buhler purchased

Morden’s Standard Gas Engine Works and renamed it Farm King Limited. It was the first step in creating a farm equipment empire that was consolidated as Buhler Industries in 1994, and which later grew to include the tractor manufacturing plant Versatile, fulfilling Buhler’s lifelong dream of building tractors. Bonnie was driven to help improve health care facilities after her daughter was diagnosed with a difficult medical condition; eventually their giving expanded to include education projects. In total, the Buhlers have provided more than $60 million in charitable gifts.


Click to find out more about 2014 Spring Convocation.

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Diane Poulin, Senior Communications Specialist, The University of Winnipeg

P: 204.988.7135, E:






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