Honorary doctorates presented for the first time ever

June 24, 2021 | Campus Life, Society

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MacEwan University’s Doctor of the University, honoris causa, is awarded to individuals whose achievements have had a significant impact in their areas of expertise.


For the first time in its nearly 50-year history, MacEwan University has conferred honorary doctorates.

In a pre-recorded virtual ceremony, MacEwan alumna Brenda Barton (Advertising and Public Relations, ’81) and Dr. Anthony (Tony) Fields were awarded Doctors of the University, honoris causa, by MacEwan President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Annette Trimbee.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the two individuals selected to receive our university’s first honorary doctorates,” says Dr. Trimbee. “Both Dr. Barton and Dr. Fields have made impressive contributions within their respective fields and their communities and truly embody the values of this university. They are the perfect choices and now hold a permanent place in MacEwan’s history.”


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MacEwan University alumna Brenda Barton has spent the last 30 years focused on ending global hunger. After earning a public relations diploma from MacEwan in 1981, she graduated from Arizona State University with a business degree. For the past three decades, she has held a number of roles with the World Food Programme (WFP), using her background in communications, partnerships and resource mobilization to affect positive change in food security, nutrition and food systems.

Barton began her WFP career in Nairobi as the organization’s first field-based spokesperson, setting up a communications hub for the East Africa Region during the devastating Horn of Africa famine in 1992, the Great Lakes crisis and the Rwanda genocide in 1994. She then spent eight years as global deputy head of communications for WFP in Rome, followed by administrative and leadership roles in Southern Africa and Sri Lanka.

Today, Barton spearheads the WFP's $48.5M, five-year country strategic plan in the Philippines to improve food security and reduce malnutrition while building the resilience of vulnerable populations to frequent natural disasters and shocks. A true global humanitarian, Barton was recognized in 2020, along with her colleagues at WFP, with a Nobel Peace Prize.  


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Dr. Anthony (Tony) Fields has spent his career in medicine affecting positive change in ways that extend far beyond his own specialty – the treatment of gastrointestinal cancers. His immense achievements – as a physician, a leader, a teacher and researcher – have shaped the Alberta cancer system, championing a provincial cancer program that encompasses cancer care, integrates research and takes a coordinated approach to prevention and screening.

While the impact of Dr. Fields’s work extends beyond the province, across the country and around the world, he has always been committed to supporting care where people live. During his tenure with the Cross Cancer Institute, the Alberta Cancer Board and later Alberta Health Services, he led the development of the Community Cancer Network, enabling patients to receive chemotherapy treatment closer to home through a network of 11 community cancer centres.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Fields held a number of positions at the University of Alberta, including division director within the Department of Medicine, interdepartmental division director within the Faculty of Medicine, and acting chair of the Department of Oncology where he continues to hold the position of professor emeritus.

Dr. Fields has received many honours and awards throughout his career, including an appointment to the Order of Canada in 2012. He will also be installed as MacEwan University’s first chancellor on July 12.


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Watch the ceremony

In a pre-recorded virtual ceremony, MacEwan alumna Brenda Barton and Dr. Anthony (Tony) Fields were awarded Doctors of the University, honoris causa.


MacEwan University to install Dr. Anthony (Tony) Fields as its first chancellor

Dr. Fields will bring an inspiring blend of excellence, compassion and hope to the new role when he is installed for a four-year term on July 12.

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