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Honorary doctorates

This high honour recognizes individuals who do remarkable and exemplary things in the University’s fields of endeavour. Recipients may come from within academia and outside it in Québec, across Canada, or elsewhere in the world.


Sophie Brochu

Business leader
Honorary University Doctorate

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Sophie Brochu is an economist and administrator and a model of female leadership whose remarkable skillset has allowed her to gain an in-depth understanding of the energy sector. Over the course of her exceptional career, she quickly rose through the ranks to achieve positions few women hold.

After earning a bachelor's degree in economics from Université Laval,  she got her start as an economics intern at Société québécoise d'initiatives pétrolières in 1987, working her way up to become vice-president of business development in 1992. She continued to advance through a series of management appointments at Énergir Inc. between 1997 and 2007, culminating in the position of president and chief executive officer, which she held from 2007 to 2019. In 2020, Sophie Brochu became the first female president and CEO of Hydro-Québec.

Throughout her career, she has been a firm believer in sustainable development and social engagement. As head of Hydro-Québec, she made a commitment to provide Quebecers with the tools they need to tackle the energy and environmental challenges that lie ahead. She also acted as a catalyst for new opportunities, contributing significantly to the acceleration of Québec's energy transition and decarbonization.

Sophie Brochu has been honoured a number of times for her accomplishments. In 2007, she received Université Laval's Prix Grand Diplômé. She was awarded the Georges-Henri-Lévesque medal from the Faculty of Social Sciences at Université Laval in 2013. She was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2015. She holds an honorary doctorate from Université de Montréal and Bishop's University. In 2020, Sophie Brochu was made an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec.

Determined and generous, she contributes to major projects while remaining firmly anchored at the community level in Québec. She has served on the boards of BCE, BMO, and CGI.

Université Laval is awarding Sophie Brochu an honorary doctorate in recognition of her exemplary record, achievements, and positive influence on the socioeconomic development of Québec and Canada. 

Diane Dufresne

Québec cultural icon
Honorary Doctorate in Music

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Diane Dufresne, the first female ‘rocker' of the francophone world, has had a rich career spanning some 30 original shows and over 25 albums. Despite her prolific output, her work and unique artistic approach have always been rooted in authenticity and the pursuit of excellence.

Diane Dufresne began singing as a teenager in Montréal, where she took lessons with Simone Quesnel. From 1965 to 1967, she studied voice with Jean Lumière and the dramatic arts with Françoise Rosay in Paris. Back in Québec, her collaboration with composer François Cousineau and lyricist Luc Plamondon served as a springboard to her international career. 

In the 1970s, in addition to her singing career, she began to paint, working with Brother Jerôme at his studio. This encounter proved to be a defining moment in her artistic journey, allowing her to explore other ways to create. Since 1993, she has had over 25 solo exhibitions in Québec, France, and the United States.

Diane Dufresne has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including three Félix Awards and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the ADISQ gala in 2006. The singer is a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec, Ordre de la Pléiade, France's Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the French Legion of Honour. Recipient of the Governor General's Performing Arts Award (GGPAA) for artistic achievement in 2001, she has just been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in May 2023.

Still active in music, she recently played a show at Palais Montcalm in October 2022. Throughout her remarkable career, she has maintained her enthusiasm and authenticity, as well as a profound respect for everyone she comes in contact with, her, from the musicians she works with to the audiences with whom she shares her love for music. 

Université Laval is awarding Diane Dufresne an Honorary Doctorate in Music in recognition of her artistic talent and unique vocal style, which have made her such an emblematic figure of Québec culture.

Photo: Philippe Evenou

Larry Hodgson

Horticultural journalist, writer, and columnist
Posthumous Honorary Doctorate in Horticulture

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Larry Hodgson left his mark on the horticultural world as an internationally respected communicator and educator known for his professionalism, his thoroughness, and his ability to make gardening accessible to all. His boundless knowledge of plants and his passion for gardening proved fertile ground for a remarkable journey that established his stellar reputation.

Larry Hodgson graduated from the University of Toronto in French and German studies in 1974, then went on to earn a bachelor's degree with a concentration in language teaching at Université Laval in 1978. This self-taught gardener learned the ins and outs of gardening from his father in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto.

He held numerous positions in the course of his career, first as president and senior editor of Horticom, then as editor-in-chief of horticultural magazines, and host and columnist in various media outlets. He also worked as a freelance journalist and lecturer, and volunteered with horticultural organizations. His blog, «Le Jardinier parrasseux» (the «Laidback Gardener» in English) has helped thousands with advice and gardening tips. He authored over 60 books on horticulture, leaving a rich legacy of writings and teaching materials.

Larry Hodgson won the 1990 Florida Foliage Expert of the Year Award and was honoured with a certificate of merit for his contribution to the development of horticulture in Québec from Regroupement Expo-Plantes in 1993  He was also named Horticultural Communicator of the Year in 1994 by Fédération des sociétés d'horticulture et d'écologie du Québec. He won the Perennial Plant Association's Garden Media Promoter Award in 2006 and the Gold Medal for Best Garden Blog from Garden Communicators International in 2022.

To keep his legacy alive, Québec Vert created the Prix Larry-Hodgson de communication en horticulture ornementale, environnementale et nourricière with him as the first recipient in 2022. This award will be presented annually to an outstanding horticultural communicator.

Larry Hodgson passed away in October 2022, but will remain Québec's most widely read horticultural journalist. Université Laval is proud to award him a posthumous Honorary Doctorate in Horticulture to honour his memory and recognize his exceptional contribution to the growing popularity of horticulture in Québec.

Photo: France Bouchard

Régine Laurent

Labour leader and retired nurse
Honorary Doctorate in Political Science

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Régine Laurent, the first Black woman to have led Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), is a trailblazer and model of female leadership. Deeply committed and highly thought of by Quebecers, she has an impressive track record. Indeed, the National Assembly unanimously recognized her «outstanding achievements» as president of the FIQ. 

Régine Laurent began her career as an orderly at Institut universitaire en santé mentale de Montréal while completing her diploma of college studies in nursing at Cégep du Vieux Montréal between 1976 and 1979. After graduation, she continued to provide nursing care at the Santa Cabrini Hospital for about 30 years. She then served as the president of FIQ from 2009 to 2017, where she made her mark with her union activism and innovative approach to associative democracy. In 2014, she helped create the SABSA clinic, the first outreach nurse clinic to work with marginalized populations in Quebec City’s inner city.

Invested and determined, Régine Laurent has spent her career defending social justice and society's most vulnerable, which earned her the 2017 PDF Québec award for her contribution to women's rights. In 2019, she agreed to chair the Special Commission on the Rights of Children and Youth Protection, known as the Laurent Commission The Commission report, which led to a reform of Québec's youth protection system, was also unanimously acclaimed. 

A unifying and inspiring figure, Régine Laurent was made an honorary member of Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec in 2021. A year later, she was awarded an honorary doctorate from Université du Québec en Outaouais. Today, she is a speaker and political analyst on LCN's Le Bilan, and a member of the TVA Group Board of Directors.

Université Laval is awarding an Honorary Doctorate in Political Science to Régine Laurent in recognition of the significant impact her work has had on public policy and democratic life in Québec.

Lynn McAlpine

Professor Emerita and Researcher
Honorary Doctorate in Education Science

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Lynn McAlpine is a pioneer in the field of doctoral career development. She has worked for nearly 20 years to build and gain recognition for her field, in part by collaborating with other researchers and valuing the work of newcomers to the field. Thanks to her tireless efforts, the need to understand and support doctoral and post-doctoral careers is now recognized worldwide.

Lynn McAlpine holds a D.Ed. from the University of Toronto, a Master's in Education from Concordia University, and a Diploma in Education and a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University. She began at McGill as a postdoctoral fellow in 1986 and became professor emerita in 2008. In 2006, she moved to the University of Oxford, becoming professor emerita there in 2016. 

Her career though began earlier in 1970 as a developer at the Public Service Commission of Canada. Throughout her career, she has maintained a focus on professional learning and career development. She has inspired countless young doctoral researchers, across disciplines, to intentionally pursue their chosen careers and provided them with ways to be successful.

Professor McAlpine, a committed researcher, highly values the power of collaboration. She has been Principal or Co-Investigator on more than 45 research grants. She has also published or co-published over 200 papers, books or book chapters – more than half about doctoral career development that are benchmarks in the field. As an authority with highly sought-after expertise, she receives many invitations to apply her research to university policy and doctoral career practice.   

She received a W.J. McKeachie Career Achievement Award in 2005 from the American Educational Research Association, a Research Award in 2006 from the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education, and was elected a Fellow of the Society for Research into Higher Education in the United Kingdom in 2012. 

Université Laval awards an Honorary Doctorate in Education Science to Lynn McAlpine for her remarkable contributions to the future of graduate studies, one in which PhD careers are attuned to the issues of today and tomorrow.

Alanis Obomsawin

Québec film pioneer
Honorary Doctorate in Film Studies

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Alanis Obomsawin, a multidisciplinary artist and member of the Abenaki Nation, is one of Canada's most distinguished documentary filmmakers. A producer and filmmaker at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) since 1967, she has made over 50 documentaries for the NFB and is known for her social and political involvement. 

Alanis Obomsawin got her start as a professional singer and storyteller, performing on reserves, in schools, in prisons, at music festivals, and on television. In 1966, she was profiled on the CBC program Telescope, which led to NFB producers Wolf Koenig and Bob Verrall hiring her as a consultant on First Nations projects. 

Her commitment to sharing and addressing Indigenous peoples' concerns has shaped her filmmaking style, which resides in her ability to pair oral traditions with documentary filmmaking methods. Her productions shed light on Indigenous realities and struggles. One of her films led to a government report on social services for Indigenous people. 

Alanis Obomsawin was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 1983, promoted to Officer in 2001, and to Companion in 2019. She also holds the title of Grand Officer of the Ordre national du Québec in 2016. Her artistic accomplishments, her work with young Indigenous people, and her advocacy for Indigenous rights have earned her several Governor General's Awards.

At the 2020 Gala Québec Cinéma awards, she was presented with the Iris Tribute award in recognition of her achievements, exemplary career, and a body of work that has significantly enhanced the reputation of Québec cinema. She received the Canadian Screen Awards' Humanitarian Award in 2014 for her «outstanding contribution to the community and public service» and the Prix Albert-Tessier, Québec's highest distinction in cinema, in 2016. In July 2023, Alanis Obomsawin will be awarded with the 63rd Edward MacDowell Medal. She is the first female filmmaker to win this prestigious award presented to artists who have made an outstanding contribution to culture.  

Université Laval is proud to award Alanis Obomsawin an Honorary Doctorate in Film Studies to celebrate her many contributions and the significant impact they have had on Québec society.

Christiane Rousseau

Professor of mathematics and researcher
Honorary Doctorate in Mathematics

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A prolific researcher, Christiane Rousseau has dedicated herself to highlighting the key role that mathematics play in solving major societal challenges and attracting a new generation of scientists to the field. She is the driving force behind the «Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013» initiative, an international year of activities under the patronage of UNESCO, and UNESCO's International Day of Mathematics, celebrated for the first time in March 2020.

She obtained her PhD in 1977 from Université de Montréal, where she became a full professor in 1991 and headed the Department of Mathematics and Statistics from 1993 to 1997. She has held a dozen-odd administrative positions in various professional societies throughout her career, including as president of the Mathematical Society of Canada from 2002 to 2004 and vice-president of the International Mathematical Union from 2011 to 2014. From 2015 to 2020, she sat on the Scientific Board of UNESCO's International Basic Sciences Programme.

In addition to her career as a researcher and graduate student supervisor, Christiane Rousseau has worked in scientific outreach, giving numerous presentations to CEGEP students, and organizing math camps and public lectures. She has published no less than 60 articles for a college audience. 

A fellow of the American Mathematical Society since 2013, she has been recognized for her work with various awards and distinctions, including Association mathématique du Québec's Abel-Gauthier award for personality of the year in 1999 and 2013. In 2018, she was awarded the inaugural Bertrand Russell Prize of the American Mathematical Society in recognition of her many contributions furthering human values and the common good through mathematics. That same year, Rousseau was named a Fellow of the Canadian Mathematical Society. 

Université Laval is awarding an Honorary Doctorate in Mathematics to Christiane Rousseau for her role in advancing the discipline and highlighting its contributions to society.

Robert F. Woollard

Professor of Family Medicine
Honorary Doctorate in Medicine

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Family medicine professor Robert F. Woollard has dedicated his career to teaching, research, and training program development. He has also completed international work on social responsibility, decentralized education, and rural practice. 

He holds a Doctorate in Medicine from the University of Alberta and practised front-line rural medicine for nearly 20 years in Western Canada. Dr. Woollard's academic career began in 1989 when he joined the Department of Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

His research has focused primarily on a new paradigm of medical education inspired by rural generalism and social responsibility in medical schools. Throughout his career, he has embodied the inspiring figure of a family physician in tune with society's health needs.

He has been involved in a variety of influential bodies and has shined a light on the contribution of rural areas, including the knowledge and expertise of First Nations in British Columbia and of countries like Nepal and Vietnam as well as African states in a consensual approach of cultural humility. 

Over the course of his career, Robert F. Woollard has received nearly 80 research grants and supported more than 20 graduate students. His outstanding contributions to the discipline of family medicine in Canada and abroad earned him the W. Victor Johnston Award in 2019. He was also awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002.

He has chaired high-level committees, boards, and working groups for Doctors of BC, the Canadian Medical Association, and the College of Family Physicians of Canada in the areas of medical education, environmental health, and ethical relations with industry.

Université Laval is awarding Robert F. Woollard an Honorary Doctorate in Medicine in recognition of his outstanding academic commitment and exemplary involvement in a variety of influential bodies.

Honorary doctorates for years prior to 2018 are currently available in French only.