KPU's honorary degree recipients 'made positive contributions to Canadian life'

Mon, Jun 2, 2014

Metro Vancouver, B.C. –  A lifetime dedicated to educating and enabling our community. A career that has advanced the cause of higher education locally, provincially and nationally. A man who persevered in the face of adversity, and another who turned a business in decline into a Canadian success story.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) recognized four distinguished individuals with honorary degrees last week.

“Honorary degrees recognize outstanding achievement and public service,” noted KPU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Alan Davis. “Those we honour this year have, in different ways, made significant and positive contributions to Canadian life.”

David Aisenstat, Christine Brodie, Joanne Curry and Baltej Singh Dhillon were each awarded honorary degrees during KPU’s spring convocation ceremonies May 28 to 30.

Aisenstat is president and chief executive officer of Keg Restaurants. He founded The Keg Spirit Foundation in 2001 to commemorate The Keg’s 30th anniversary. The foundation focuses on helping charitable organizations that develop and mentor youth. Among those are Free The Children, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, Action Canada and the Trans Canada Trail.

Since its inception, The Keg Spirit Foundation has raised and distributed more than $7.3 million to some 300 Canadian charities that support the development of youth through mentorship programs

Before she retired from the Richmond School District, Brodie worked as a district consultant and community outreach teacher. She was a founding member of the district’s community outreach service, which was established to engage the five per cent of Richmond children and youth who face barriers to attending school. Through her work, Brodie helped support more than 300 students in returning to educational pursuits.

Associate vice-president of external relations for Simon Fraser University, Curry has served the cause of higher education locally, provincially and across Canada for nearly 20 years. She is considered an “education impresario” with a talent for creating environments where students can thrive and do great things.

Curry was executive director of SFU Surrey for more than 10 years, leading the start-up of SFU's third campus, and in so doing, was instrumental in building bridges and partnerships that connected the university with the community.

Dhillon is head of the RCMP’s Federal and Serious Organized Crime Intelligence Unit. A KPU criminology alumnus who successfully lobbied to be the first RCMP member permitted to wear a turban, Dhillon showed unwavering courage in the face of opposition, intolerance and racism.

His refusal to remove his turban in favour of the traditional RCMP Stetson divided the country, but on March 16, 1990 the Canadian government announced policy changes that would allow Sikh members to wear their turban will on active duty in the RCMP, and Dhillon became the force’s first turbaned cadet.

For more information on the honorary degree recipients, visit KPU’s convocation page.

View and download images of the honorary degree recipients on KPU’s Flickr page.

Honorary degrees are awarded to those honoris causa in recognition of dignified achievements or outstanding service to the public. Nominees are exceptionally distinguished scholars, creative artists, public servants, persons prominent in the community and the professions, and others who have made significant contributions locally, nationally or globally. Members of the community-at-large are invited to nominate honorary degree candidates.

Kwantlen Polytechnic University has been serving the Metro Vancouver region for 30 years, and has opened doors to success for more than 250,000 people. Four campuses—Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale and Langley—offer a comprehensive range of sought-after programs, including business, liberal arts, science, design, health, trades and technology, apprenticeships, horticulture, and academic and career advancement. Over 19,000 students annually have a choice from over 124 programs, including bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, diplomas, certificates and citations. Learn more at


Media contact:
Hayley Woodin
Media Specialist, KPU
t: 604.599.2883
c: 604.364.1288

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