York University will confer 14 honorary degrees during its 2009 spring convocation ceremonies, running June 24 to 30.

“We are proud to mark the 50th anniversary of York University by honoring such an extraordinary group of individuals,” said president and vice-chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “Their remarkable achievements are an inspiration to our graduates as they embark upon their own careers.”

The recipients are:

Brainerd Blyden-Taylor, conductor, clinician, adjudicator. Blyden-Taylor is the founder, artistic director and conductor of the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Canada's first professional chamber choir dedicated to the creation and performance of Afrocentric music of all styles. He works frequently as a guest conductor and teacher and as an advisor in conducting and choral technique.

Joe Clark, former prime minister of Canada. Clark was the youngest prime minister in Canadian history when he was sworn in on June 4, 1979, one day before his 40th birthday. He had an illustrious 25-year career in Parliament, serving in several cabinet portfolios and as leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons from 1976 to 1979 and 1980 to 1983. Since retiring in 2004, he has remained active in international affairs, observing elections in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and promoting sustainable development projects.

Gail Cook-Bennett, economist and Chair of the board of directors of the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board. An economist by training, Cook-Bennett has been called a trailblazer for her contributions to Canada and Canadian public and private sector business.

Martin Goldfarb, sociologist, leader in the market research industry, author, patron of the arts, and ambassador for York University. As the official pollster to the Liberal Party of Canada, he was a key adviser and strategist to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau. An honorary Governor of York University, Martin Goldfarb has been a strong supporter of York University for many years. He is a generous benefactor of the arts and a visionary for York’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

Chaviva Hošek, leader in the advancement of research, educator, policy advisor, and feminist. Hosek has had an exemplary career in academia and in the public sector, including work as an MPP and cabinet minister in Ontario, and as a senior policy advisor for the federal government. Her visionary leadership of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research aims to ensure that Canada remains the intellectual home for many of the world's greatest researchers.

Michael Kirby, Chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and retired member of the Senate of Canada. A dedicated public servant for 40 years, he has been a prominent advocate for health-care reform and improving health and social outcomes for people with mental illness. He served as an advisor to former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, and in 2002, chaired a major report on public health care reform.

Vibert Lampkin, judge and legal scholar. Justice Lampkin is a recently retired judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. With almost 300 reported decisions, he has made a significant contribution to Canadian criminal jurisprudence throughout the course of his judicial career.

Michael Lee-Chin, business leader and philanthropist. Lee-Chin is the founder and executive chairman of one of Canada’s largest mutual fund companies, Advantage Investment Counsel (AIC), well-known for his gift to the Royal Ontario Museum, which supported construction of the Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. He has also made significant contributions to at-risk communities such as Black Creek West.

Professor Deborah Meier, scholar, educator. Deborah Meier is a scholar, prolific author and public education advocate. As a learning theorist, she encourages new approaches that enhance democracy and equity in public co-education.

David Onley, lieutenant-governor of Ontario. Onley has been a champion of disability rights in Canada, using his influence to highlight the need for improved accessibility and to help remove barriers to employment and housing for Ontario's 1.5 million people with disabilities. Throughout his 22-year career as a broadcaster with a visible disability, he became an early public symbol of diversity.

Roy Romanow, former premier of Saskatchewan, head of the Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada. Romanow is a leader in addressing health policy in Canada. He has demonstrated outstanding commitment and leadership in extending and preserving the principles of medicare – ensuring a universally accessible, high quality, publicly-administered health care system for all Canadians.

Paul Rouleau, judge and lawyer. Justice Paul Rouleau played a leading role in securing recognition of the legal right of Ontario’s francophone population to education in French. Rouleau, a former Governor of York University, is a leader within the Franco-Ontarian community, committed to the expansion of opportunities for French-language university education in southern Ontario.

Isadore Sharpe, corporate leader and philanthropist. Sharpe is the founder, chairman and CEO of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. He is also well-known for his advocacy of corporate social responsibility and his generous commitments of time and resources to a variety of philanthropic organizations, including the National Terry Fox Run, the Council for Canadian Unity and Mount Sinai and North York General Hospitals.

Paul Weiler, legal scholar. Weiler is the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a former professor at Osgoode Hall Law School. He is the foremost labour law scholar in North America and one of Canada’s leading constitutional scholars.

Convocation ceremonies will be held at the Tennis Canada Rexall Centre on York’s Keele Campus with the exception of the Glendon College ceremony, which will take place at the Glendon College campus, at 2275 Bayview Avenue.