The University of Waterloo is proud to award a new group of honorary doctorates, the highest honour conferred by the University, at this year’s spring convocation ceremony.

Honorary doctorates are presented to inspiring individuals who provide exceptional service or leadership and those who have made outstanding contributions to their discipline. This year’s recipients have made significant global and societal impact through their personal experiences and fields in computing, mathematics, science and environmental studies.

“Our new honorary doctorates are an inspiration to our graduates and our University community as we celebrate their achievements and impact in their respective fields," says Dr. Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. "They are trailblazers and trendsetters, and will undoubtedly inspire our new graduates to make a positive impact on the world.”

Learn more about this year’s honorary doctorates and their accomplishments below.

Vinton Cerf

Vincent CerfDr. Vinton Cerf is widely credited as one of the "fathers of the internet," having co-developed the original suite of TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the internet. He also contributes to global policy development and currently works as chief internet evangelist at Google. Cerf has received numerous awards, including the Turing Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour of the United States. He has also received numerous honorary degrees from universities including ETH Zürich and Yale University, and fellowships of learned societies in his field. Cerf received his bachelor's degree from Stanford University, and his master's and PhD degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles. Cerf will deliver a Public Lecture on June 11 from 2:30-4:00 p.m. in the Humanities Theatre. Learn more and register.


David Cornfield (BASc ’85) and Linda Archer Cornfield

David and Linda CornfieldDavid and Linda Archer Cornfield are passionate advocates for education who believe in supporting initiatives focused on finding solutions for global challenges. David, who hails from Toronto, holds a BASc in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo. Linda, a Cincinnati native, earned her BS in Applied Science from Miami University and an MS in Management from MIT Sloan School of Management. Following successful careers at Microsoft, they chose to pursue their shared interests of sailing, curling, travel, philanthropy and technology ventures. Dedicated environmentalists, the Cornfields work aims to find pragmatic, sustainable approaches to better stewardship of the earth.


Rick Hansen

Rick HansenRick Hansen graduated from the University of British Columbia and was the first person with a physical disability to graduate with a degree in physical education. He is best known as the “Man in Motion” for undertaking an epic 26-month, 40,000 km journey around the world in his wheelchair. Hanson is also a three-time world champion, nine-time Pan Am gold medalist, and six-time Paralympic medalist. He is the founder of the Rick Hansen Foundation, an organization committed to creating an inclusive world where people with disabilities are living to their full potential. The Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification™ (RHFAC) is the only program that rates, certifies and showcases accessible building based on their level of meaningful access for persons with mobility, vision and hearing disabilities. To date, more than 1,350 sites across Canada have been rated through the program. Hansen will deliver a Public Lecture on building an inclusive and healthy world without barriers on June 10 from 7-9 p.m. Register to attend in-person or online.   


Sheryl Kennedy (BES ’76)

Sheryl KennedySheryl Kennedy exemplifies leadership for societal impact. Working first as an urban and regional planner, then in the federal public service, she was appointed deputy governor of the Bank of Canada in 1994. A Women in Capital Markets Leadership Award winner, Kennedy was also honoured as a trailblazer and trendsetter, one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. In 2009, as CEO, she established the Canadian affiliate of the global consulting firm, Promontory Financial Group. Kennedy has served on several boards, including the University of Waterloo Board of Governors, where she was the driving force behind enhancing investment fund portfolios and policies, and chaired the Responsible Investing Advisory Group. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Waterloo, a master’s from Harvard, and studied financial markets at the London School of Economics.


Bruce Kuwabara

Bruce KuwabaraBruce Kuwabara is one of Canada's most outstanding architects and recipient of the RAIC Gold Medal and the OAA Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2012, he became an Officer of the Order of Canada. Born in Hamilton, he graduated from the University of Toronto. He is also chair of the Board of Trustees for the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Kuwabara is a founding partner of KPMB Architects and the designer of Canada’s National Ballet School, the Canadian Museum of Nature, the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and many others across Canada and the United States. His influence is also felt locally as the designer of Kitchener City Hall, the Balsillie School of International Affairs and the Grand River Institution. He has taught at the Waterloo School of Architecture and has been generous in his support of its initiatives.


Claudette McGowan

Claudette McGowanClaudette McGowan is a global IT leader, excelling in digital transformations, service enhancements and cybersecurity. McGowan has driven innovation at Deloitte, the Metropolitan Police, BMO and TD Bank. At TD, she was the global executive officer for cyber security. She is now CEO of Protexxa and co-founder of The Firehood network for women in tech. McGowan holds a BA from Lakehead University and an MBA from Athabasca University. She has been named as one of the Top 50 Most Influential Torontonians by Toronto Life magazine and was featured in the Women's Executive Network's Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.


Brad Regehr (BA ’93)

Brad RegehrBrad Regehr is a member of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. He earned his Honours BA in History from the University of Waterloo in 1993, and his LLB from the University of Manitoba in 1996. Regehr was called to the Bar in 1997 and is presently a partner at Maurice Law and King’s Counsel in Manitoba. He has served as president of the Manitoba Bar Association and president of the Canadian Bar Association, the first Indigenous lawyer to hold these offices. His work includes educating all Canadians about Indigenous issues and building cultural competency to address trauma.


Ian Stewart

Ian StewartDr. Ian Stewart received his PhD from the University of Warwick, where he is currently an Emeritus Professor in Mathematics. Stewart divides his time equally between research into nonlinear dynamics and furthering public awareness of mathematics. In 1995, he received the Michael Faraday Medal for excellence in communicating science to U.K. audiences, and in 1997, he gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Magical Maze. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 2001 and was the first recipient of the Christopher Zeeman Medal, awarded for his work on promoting mathematics.


Scott Tremaine

Scott TremaineDr. Scott Tremaine is an acclaimed Canadian astrophysicist, known for establishing the theory that supermassive black holes are at the core of galaxies. A graduate of McMaster University and Princeton University, he has held pivotal roles including founding director of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and chair of Astrophysics at Princeton University. Tremaine's seminal textbook, Galactic Dynamics, is a cornerstone in astrophysics. His honours include fellowships in the Royal Society of Canada, the Royal Society of London and the American Astronomical Society, reflecting his profound influence on the field. Tremaine is currently Professor Emeritus in the Institute for Advanced Study's School of Natural Sciences. He has been with IAS since 2007.