The University of Waterloo is proud to welcome three new honorary doctorates at our fall convocation ceremonies.  

Honorary doctorates are an integral part of each convocation ceremony as recipients are awarded for their substantial contributions to the Waterloo community, to their profession or to society at large.  

An honorary doctorate is one of the highest recognitions of the University and is bestowed to honour individuals whose character and extraordinary intellect, creativity and service to society set a standard of excellence that merits this honour.  

Waterloo is excited to celebrate these individuals whose societal contributions and impact are extraordinary, transformative and inspirational. In accepting this honorary doctorate, the recipients also honour the spirit of community and innovation of the University. 

“These recipients and their achievements in their respective fields exemplify the kind of inspiration we hope to provide to our graduates and University community,” says Dr. Vivek Goel, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Waterloo. “As we celebrate their exemplary service, we are also honoured to welcome them to our illustrious honorary doctorates family.”  

Learn more about our three new honorary doctorates and learn more about their work below.  

David Hand

Dr. David Hand is Senior Research Investigator and Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College, London, where he formerly held the Chair in Statistics. Hand is a Fellow of the British Academy, an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, and in 2013 was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to research and innovation. He has authored and co-authored more than 300 scientific papers and 31 books, and his research has garnered him numerous other awards including a Research Merit Award from the British Royal Society. 

David Hand wearing dark framed glasses in black and white photo


Alison Phipps

Dr. Alison Phipps (OBE) is professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies at the University of Glasgow and UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts. Author of eight books and over 60 articles, her research and teaching focus on refugee studies, social justice, and intercultural education. She is an active supporter of refugee rights, having served on the board of Right to Remain and co-founder of the Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network. Phipps is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Academy of Social Sciences, and a recipient of the Royal Philosophical Society’s Minerva Medal. 

Alison Phipps is dressed in all black clothing, holding microphone in one hand and a red book in the other


Weiya Xu

Dr. Weiya Xu is the former vice-president at Hohai University and is a highly acclaimed researcher in engineering rock mechanics. Through fundamental, theoretical, computational and experimental research, Xu developed an innovative and realistic system of theory and associated methods and made several seminal contributions to theory and practice. His pioneering contributions include the study of coupled thermal, hydraulic, mechanical and chemical processes. As a senior leader at Hohai University, Xu has worked collegially with colleagues, government and funding agencies to enhance the international standing of Hohai as one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities, especially in the water science, civil and environmental engineering fields. 

Weiya Xu stands square facing the camera, wearing light framed glasses with red tie, white shirt and black suit jacket