Headlines (News Releases)
Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
Laurier to award five honorary degrees at spring convocations
May 24/06| For Immediate Release
Dr. Robert G. Rosehart
WATERLOO – Two academics, two former politicians and a motivational financial writer/speaker are being awarded honorary doctorates at this spring’s five Wilfrid Laurier University convocations.
On June 8, in Waterloo, Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees will be awarded to James Breithaupt and Dr. Alfred Pletsch.
The following day, also in Waterloo, an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree will be awarded to David Chilton, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Dr. Don Morgenson.
On June 14, in Brantford, an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree will be awarded to The Honorable Robert Nixon.
“Each of these recipients is remarkable in his own right,” said Laurier president Robert Rosehart, “and we are indeed fortunate to be able to pay tribute to them in this way. An honorary doctorate is the greatest honour a university can bestow on an individual.”
Breithaupt, a Waterloo College student from 1952 to 1954, completed a BA in honours economics at the University of Western Ontario then earned a master’s degree from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall.
He taught economics and political science courses at WLU from 1962 to 1967 and from 1978 to 1981. In 1967, he was elected to the Ontario legislature as the Liberal MPP for Kitchener. He was re-elected four times over 17 years and was, at various times, finance critic, house leader and justice critic, as well as chair of the public accounts committee and chair of the select committee on company law.
Breithaupt joined WLU’s board of governors in 1969 and was vice-chair in 1973, when he suggested that Wilfrid Laurier University be added to the names being considered when Waterloo Lutheran University would become a publicly funded institution.
From 1984 to 1993, Breithaupt was chair of the Ontario Law Reform Commission and then of the Commercial Registration Appeal Tribunal.
Pletsch, a professor of geography at Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, not only teaches Canadian geography, but is also a leader in promoting Canadian studies in Germany.
It was Pletsch who began the Philipps-Laurier student exchange program in 1983, under which more than 100 students, plus faculty and staff, have gone in each direction between the two universities.
Pletsch has produced virtual geography texts on Canada and Germany, and was the first recipient of the prestigious John G. Diefenbaker Award from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Of his well over 200 publications, more than 60 are on Canada. Pletsch has been a researcher with and is currently a member of the advisory board of the Viessmann Research Centre on Modern Europe, which is based at Laurier.
Chilton is president of Financial Awareness Corp. of Waterloo, but he is best known for The Wealthy Barber, a self-published book on financial planning for the general audience that has sold more than two million copies in North America since first appearing in 1989.
Chilton, a Laurier economics graduate, is now a speaker-in-demand and behind-the-scenes philanthropist. He is also unstinting in his support of his alma mater, speaking to students and graduates whenever called upon because he genuinely believes in the importance of educating young people about their economic realities.
Morgenson has been a fixture at Waterloo Lutheran University/Wilfrid Laurier University since 1960, when he was hired as an assistant professor of psychology and was also promptly made acting director of athletics.
Through his more than four decades at the university, Morgenson has been an award-winning teacher (including being named Canadian Professor of the Year in 1986 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education), prolific researcher and writer (including numerous articles in the popular press), department chair and a member or chair of numerous committees.
Off campus, Morgenson has been active in Amnesty International, Big Brothers, the John Howard Society, the World Federalists of Canada, Oxfam and the Kitchener-Waterloo Human Rights Caucus.
Although long past the normal retirement age, Morgenson continues to teach at Laurier and receives glowing teaching evaluations.
Nixon succeeded his father, Harry Conwin Nixon, as Brant MPP in 1961. Nixon senior spent 42 years as an MPP, including three months as premier. Robert was leader of the Ontario Liberals from 1967 to 1976 and was provincial treasurer from 1985 to 1990.
He became Agent General of Ontario in Great Britain, led a federal task force studying the Pearson Airport privatization deal, and was chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission of Canada.
Nixon is being honoured for his many contributions to public life in Ontario, in particular to Brant County.