Presidential Installation, award presentations to feature at Brandon University Convocation

This article is over 4 years old.

Along with the official conferral of hundreds of degrees as the newest generation of Brandon University alumni are created, this week’s Convocation ceremony will include numerous distinguished awards and the official Presidential Installation.

Brandon University’s new President and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. David Docherty, was appointed earlier this year by the BU Board of Governors, and assumed his duties on May 1. This Thursday, he will be formally Installed as a ceremonial highlight of Convocation.

“Convocation is my favourite time of the academic calendar, and I am absolutely thrilled to have my Installation included,” Dr. Docherty said. “Like the graduates I will share the stage with, for me this is a formal and fun occasion to put on special academic robes, and to share the symbolism of moving into a new role. It is also a chance for the community share the moment, and for me to share my vision for the future of Brandon University.”

Multiple award-winners will also be recognized at this year’s Convocation, which will span three ceremonies over two days this year, as more students continue to graduate, and more friends and family come to cheer them on. This expands Convocation from the recent tradition of having two ceremonies in one day.

Over the three ceremonies, four Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented. Pandelis Halamandaris, Tom Mitchell, David Wilson, and Gerald Butler will each be presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards. Approved by the BU Senate, these awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions in service and achievement generally throughout their lives and, in particular, to Brandon University.

The BU Senate also approves awards to recognize excellence in teaching and excellence in research, and to honour those at Brandon University who excel. This year’s Senate Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Reinhold Kramer. The Senate Award for Excellence in Research will be presented to Burcu Yaman Ntelioglou.
Another award recognizing excellence in teaching comes from the Brandon University Alumni Association. The BUAA Award for Excellence in Teaching will be presented to Allison McCulloch.

The BU Board of Governors will also present their Award for Excellence in Community Service, to Novell Thomas.
On Thursday, three Distinguished Teacher Awards will also be presented. Nominated by their principal and members of their student body, this award is presented annually to teachers who have inspired students in their school to continue their education. Val Arthur, Kelly Kuzyk and Ryan Ogilvie will receive these awards this year.

As well, each of the three ceremonies will feature a student valedictorian. Valedictorians this year will be Gordon Tanner, Robert Boyce, and Parker Easter.

Nearly 590 students will graduate during Convocation, slightly more than last year and Brandon University’s largest graduating class since 2013. More than 80 per cent of graduates have indicated they will attend their Convocation ceremonies.

Convocation takes place Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31. Thursday’s ceremony will begin at 2 p.m., and will feature the Presidential Installation as well as conferral of degrees for the Faculty of Education, including B.A./B.Ed. integrated degrees. The Friday morning ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. and will feature the conferral of degrees for the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Health Studies. The Friday afternoon ceremony will follow, at 2 p.m., and will feature the conferral of degrees for Faculty of Arts and the School of Music, including B.Mus./B.Ed. concurrent degrees.

Everyone is welcome to attend any or all of the ceremonies, as Convocation is a community celebration. Convocation is held at the BU Healthy Living Centre, on Louise Avenue at 20th Street. There is no charge to attend.



David Docherty is Brandon University’s new President and Vice-Chancellor. Docherty comes to Brandon University from Mount Royal University in Calgary, where he had served as President since 2011. Previously, he was at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. Docherty holds a PhD in political science and has a background as an accomplished academic and administrator who has led institutions through times of transformative change.

As an expert in parliamentary government in Canada, Docherty is the author of two books, many articles and chapters on Canadian legislatures and is a media commentator on provincial and national politics. Docherty spoke to the Senate Chamber as part of a symposium celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation.

With a deep commitment to embracing Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, he was humbled to receive a Blackfoot name and headdress in 2018. He is also a strong advocate for the importance of mental health well-being, including reducing stigma and providing the necessary supports.

Along with his strong belief in the importance of genuine personal relationships, Docherty has a notable record as a successful fundraiser, as a committed champion of diversity, inclusion and Indigenous reconciliation, and as an enthusiastic community-builder.


Pandelis Halamandaris

Pandelis Halamandaris is a Professor Emeritus at Brandon University with a multi-decade record of service to education, particularly international education. Born in Suez, Egypt, of Greek descent, he got an early start as an assistant teacher at a one-room elementary school there in the 1950s. After earning a Master’s and PhD in education research in the United States, he came to Canada in 1970 with his wife and two children and initiated First Nations-focused teacher training at Brandon University.

With funding from BU and the Canadian International Development Agency, Halamandaris embarked on international projects in Swaziland and Malawi. He published several times on the internationalization of Canadian universities, and later accepted an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Swaziland.


Tom Mitchell

Tom Mitchell played hockey and studied history at Brandon University in the late 1960s.

Following completion of a Master of Arts degree at the University of Manitoba in 1973, he taught at Neelin High School for several years, before returning to Brandon University in the early 1980s. At BU, he served as Dean of Students, Registrar, and University Archivist before retiring in 2012.

He is now an independent researcher, a filmmaker, and a writer with many interests, including traditional historical and archival practice, that tend to converge on public history. His work has appeared in multiple journals. An invited article, “Strike or Revolution? H.A. Robson’s Inquiry into the Winnipeg General Strike,” will appear this fall in a special issue of The Manitoba Law Journal.


David Wilson

David Wilson is a Brandon College graduate, high school educator, and dedicated volunteer who created multiple new events to share music, theatre, and culture with students and community.

Among his many contributions to the local cultural scene are music educator workshops, Stratford theatre trips, Augustfest, and Mosaic Massey, an annual Festival of Life and Learning that brought world-renowned musicians, politicians, scientists, astronauts, and writers to mingle with students and teachers from across Manitoba, all open to the public.

Wilson, a Member of the Order of Canada as well as a two-time Queen’s Jubilee Medal winner (Gold in 2002 and Diamond in 2012), considers that his greatest contribution and satisfaction comes from acting as a catalyst for the pleasure and fulfillment of others.


Gerald Butler

From his earliest memories growing up across the street from campus, Gerald Butler has maintained a close connection with Brandon College and Brandon University.

Graduating with a science degree and an education certificate prepared him for teaching high school physics and chemistry, but what Butler found he really loved was being in the people business, and shortly after he moved into the financial industry.

Today, he says the same smallness and caring for people that attracted him as a student now binds him as a caring alumnus. He and his wife Carmen steward a family foundation whose mission is to help people help themselves to a happy, healthy, abundant life. Their dream is to eradicate poverty and discrimination — racial, religious, and gender — and they believe that education is a critical part of the solution.


Burcu Yaman Ntelioglou is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, who teaches in both the teacher education and graduate education programs.

Her research in the field of language and literacy education explores ethical local and global questions about social justice, equity, migration, and globalization in schools, with a focus on the wellbeing and academic success of students who are in a linguistic minority. This includes newcomer, immigrant, and refugee students as well as Indigenous students.

Yaman Ntelioglou works with parents, educators and elders to support language learning and to revitalize Indigenous languages. Her research also makes important contributions to the literature on community-based, participatory, collaborative, and culturally relevant research methodologies.


Reinhold Kramer

Reinhold Kramer is a Professor of English and Creative Writing at Brandon University who teaches courses in Canadian, Commonwealth, and postmodern literatures, film, and contemporary critical theory in a very collegial department.
His published books include Scatology and Civility in the English-Canadian Novel. With co-author Tom Mitchell, he published Walk Towards the Gallows, which won the Margaret McWilliams Award, and When the State Trembled, which was short-listed for the John W. Dafoe Prize.

Kramer’s book, Mordecai Richler: Leaving St. Urbain (McGill-Queen’s University Press), made several Canadian best-seller lists, won a Canadian Jewish Book Award, the Gabrielle Roy Prize, and was named by as one of the “Top 100” pop culture mementoes of 2008, alongside Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet tour.


Allison McCulloch

Allison McCulloch is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, teaching in the fields of Comparative Politics and International Politics. McCulloch joined Brandon University in 2009 after completing her PhD at Queen’s University; she also previously taught at Laurentian University and Wilfrid Laurier University and held a visiting research fellowship at Queen’s University Belfast. An author and editor, she has published more than 15 journal articles or book chapters since joining BU.

She researches the processes and institutions that facilitate democracy, security, and stability in post-conflict settings, focusing on the design of power- sharing arrangements. McCulloch is also actively involved with the Women’s Resource Centre in Brandon, where she recently completed a term as Chair of the Board of Directors.


Novell Thomas

Novell Thomas has been at Brandon University since 2012 and in addition to his regular duties as a faculty member and as the Head Coach of the Women’s basketball program, he has established various youth programs such as the Bobcat Basketball Academy, the Junior Bobcats, and the Westman Youth Basketball Association.

This community service fulfils a long- standing void in the Westman Region for continuous and consistent youth basketball programming as well as promoting Brandon University, BU Bobcats Basketball, and BU Athletics.

Today, these community programs involve over 400 registrants a year — a growth of more than 650% since he founded them. These large increases are a by-product of Thomas’ passion for growing basketball in the region, program design, and community leadership.


Val Arthur

Val Arthur has spent her whole career developing relationships with remarkable young people — a vital approach to education that helps learning fall into place.

Arthur began her education career teaching Grade 5 and 6 in Souris, then moved to Wawanesa to teach Grade 1.
After six years there, she moved to Brandon to pursue her fifth year of the Bachelor of Education and found a home at Meadows School as a Resource Teacher, and as a Grade 1 and Grade 2 teacher.

From experiencing the joy of someone reading their first book or adding double digit numbers to the responsibility of holding that first tooth that falls out or receiving a genuine hug from a child, Arthur says being a teacher is a great pleasure.


Kelly Kuzyk

Kelly Kuzyk is a graduate of the Brandon University education program who has spent her entire teaching career at Mackenzie Middle School in Dauphin. She began by teaching Grade 7, 8, and 9 Basic French. She later moved to a Grade 7 homeroom where she taught language arts, math, science, and social studies.

For a five-year period, she served as vice-principal of Mackenzie, but missed teaching so she returned to the classroom. Kuzyk has been actively involved in supporting extra-curricular programs at Mackenzie.


Ryan Ogilvie

Ryan Ogilvie grew up on a small farm near Teulon, Manitoba before earning a Bachelor of Science in 2002 and a Bachelor of Education in 2004, both from Brandon University. He began his teaching career at Sanford Collegiate in 2004 and has taught sciences there for the past 15 years. At Sanford, he has helped create a learning environment that inspires students to continue their science education beyond high school. Ogilvie also earns the trust of colleagues by listening and giving guidance when called upon.

Ogilvie values positive relationships with his students, parents and the community. He organizes and coaches extra- curricular events to develop connections outside of the classroom. Inside the classroom, Ogilvie strives for a culture of independence and self-reflection for his students.


Gordon Tanner

Gordon Tanner is a life-long Winnipegger, except for the two wonderful years he spent in the Wheat City pursuing his Bachelor of Education degree at BU. Before returning to school, Tanner spent the past 20 years working as a professional actor, which turns out to have been excellent preparation for daily performances in front of the toughest (and most rewarding) audience you can imagine: kids. He offers his thanks to Ardith and Benjamin, Mom and Dad for all their love and support. To his fellow education students and their professors and support staff, he says thanks for the great memories and best of luck in the future!


Robert Boyce

Robert Boyce was born in Winnipeg and raised in the Interlake. Before attending Brandon University, Boyce was self- employed for eight years, driving his own truck and working as a private contractor. Fascinated by the complexity of the human experience and wishing to use his abilities to help those in need, Boyce decided to enroll in the Psychiatric Nursing Program at Brandon University. The challenges and triumphs he experienced in the program, as well as the relationships he made, galvanized Boyce’s desire to work in the health care field. Looking ahead, Boyce intends to work in acute care for a couple of years and then pursue his Master of Psychiatric Nursing degree.


Parker Easter

Twenty-one-year-old Parker Easter is Brandon born and raised by a hardworking, moral-driven, and excitement-fulfilling home-bodied family. He is graduating with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) degree.

Easter credits himself as fortunate enough to have a relationship with education that began at a very young age, finding his admiration for education growing very quickly and with it, so did his horizons. He says he is extremely grateful for the life he has been brought into, the life that surrounds him, and the life he has made of it. If nothing else, he says, he thinks big and he cares even more.

In the future, he plans to build off of the passions he has fostered throughout university to live a life filled with generosity, inclusiveness, and spontaneity.


To receive any BU publication in an alternate format please contact

About BU

Success is built at Brandon University. Our growing, progressive campus welcomes a diverse and inclusive community that combines proud tradition with shared ambition. Through our excellence in teaching, research, and scholarship, we educate students to make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders. Join us at