Convocation Friday, November 17, 2017, 9:30 a.m.

(bagpipe music) (off mic chatter) (soft music) (off mic chatter) (soft music) (off mic chatter) – [Announcer] Ladies and
gentlemen please rise for the academic procession
and the chancellor. (processional music) I declare that the 578th convocation of McMaster University for
the conferring of degrees is now in session. – Please be seated. (rustling) Good morning, I’m Dr.
Doug Welch, Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies. This morning I have the great pleasure of welcoming all of you,
graduands and guests to this convocation ceremony. I would like to start by
recognizing and acknowledging that we meet today on the
traditional territories of the Mississauga and
Haudenosaunee nations, and within the lands protected by the Dish With One
Spoon wampum agreement. Before we start our formal program, may I ask that everyone in the hall switch off their electronic device that may ring or beep during the ceremony. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge some of
the notable leaders, joining me onstage today. Dr. Suzanne Labarge, Chancellor, Dr. Patrick Dean, President
and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. David Farrar, Provost
& Vice President, Academic, and today’s Master of
Ceremonies; Ms. Mary Williams, Vice President, University Advancement; Dr. Maureen MacDonald,
Dean, Faculty of Science Assistant Vice Presidents,
Associate Deans, Chairs, Directors, Faculty
Members, and honored guests. I’d also like to highlight
today the achievements of a number of our graduates, Stephanie Jones from biology received the Graduate Research Prize, by the Canadian Council of
University Biology Chairs for the best Chai Molena of math and statistics won the 2017 CAIMS Cecil Graham Doctoral dissertation Award given by the Canadian Applied and
Industrial Mathematics Society for outstanding PhD
thesis in applied math, and Mariam Badfa of biomedical engineering who won there Mary Keyes award
for outstanding leadership and service to McMaster I would like to now call
upon our Chancellor, Dr. Suzanne Labarge, to make
her own welcoming remarks. (audience applause) – Welcome honored guests, staff, faculty, families, friends, and most
importantly, graduands. This is an exciting day for all of you who are graduating today, as well as for all those people who have supported you
and stood behind you, and in many cases, have had a key role in
you being here today. You’ve achieved a great deal to get here, and you should all be very
proud of your success, and looking forward to what
the future might bring. Congratulations, and enjoy the ceremony. (audience applause) – I’m David Farrar,
Provost and Vice President, Academic of the University. I have the great pleasure of being your Master of
Ceremony this morning. I would now like to
introduce Dr. Patrick Deane, President and Vice-Chancellor, who will be presenting the
honorary degree recipient. – Chancellor Labarge, by the authority of the
senate of McMaster University, I have the honor to
present Gregory Fahlman. As the general manager of
National Research Counsel Canada, Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics, Gregory Fahlman oversees
what has been called Canada’s gateway to the universe. The organization that operates Canada’s National Observatories, and National Astronomy Data Center. Since assuming that role in 2003, Doctor Fahlman has built on
his well earned reputation for leadership in both the Canadian and international
astronomical communities. An expert in star
clusters, galaxy clusters, white dwarfs, stellar
populations, and photometry, Dr. Fahlman was educated at
the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, joining the faculty of UBC
after a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Cambridge. He has also been a visiting professor at the University of
California Santa Barbara, and the University of Hawaii, as well as the Rinehart fellow at the Canadian Center For
Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Before joining NRC Herzberg,
Dr. Fahlman also served as the executive director of the Canada, France, Hawaii telescope, located on Mauna Kea Mountain
on Hawaii’s Big Island. Dr. Fahlman’s leadership and vision have played a critical
role in the development of the National Research Counsel’s long range plan for astronomy in Canada, in both it’s 2000 and 2010 iterations. These plans have guided Canada’s entry into the Atacama Large
Millimeter Array project, the transition of the
twin Gemini telescopes from construction to operation, and Canada’s participation in the design and development of the 30 meter telescope and Square kilometer Array Organization. As a researcher, Dr.
Fahlman has influenced a broad range of astrophysics in the fields of observational galactic and extragalactic astronomy. He is a leader in the
measurement and disentangling of major stellar components of galaxies, using properties such as age, dynamics, and abundance of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. He has also undertaken important studies of the star clusters of the milky way with a particular emphasis on exploring the remnants of the oldest stars, which are used to set an independent limit on the age of the universe. A member of the Order of British Columbia and a fellow of the
Royal Society of Canada, Dr. Fahlman has been extremely
active within his field, serving, for example, as chairman of the Kaska Committee
For Image Processing, of the Canadian Time Allocation Committee, of the Joint Subcommittee
For Space Astronomy, and of the Canada
Foundation For Innovation, Special Multidisciplinary
Assessment Committee For Major Science Initiatives. He is currently a member
of the boards of directors for the Gemini Observatory, the Square Kilometer Array Organization, The James Clark Maxwell Telescope, and The Canada, France, Hawaii Telescope. Madame Chancellor, every one of us has looked up into the night sky and wondered about the
infinite mysteries of space, very few people however, have made fundamental and
tangible contributions to our understanding of our universe. Gregory Fahlman is one of those few. I present Dr. Fahlman to you, so that you may confer upon him, the degree, Doctor of
Science honoris causa. (audience applause) – [Chancellor Labarge] Gregory Fahlman, by the authority of
McMaster University Senate, I have the great pleasure
to confer upon you the degree Doctor of
Science, honoris causa, at McMaster University with
all the rights and privileges pertaining to that degree. Congratulations. (audience applause) Now we’ll get you to the sign over here. And I would now like to invite Dr. Fahlman to deliver the Convocation address. (Dr. Fahlman speaking off mic) Absolutely. (audience applause) – Well Madame Chancellor, President Deane, honored guests, graduands,
family, and friends, it’s a great honor to receive this degree from McMaster University, one of Canada’s most
esteemed Universities, and one with which I’ve had
quite a long association, both through family and through my science of astronomy astrophysics. It’s a real pleasure to be here, and so to the graduating class, I would like to say good morning, and point out that it’s been 51 years since I was in your
shoes as a newly minted bachelor of science degree after my name, 47 years since I received a
doctorate in my field of study. To say that things have changed
in that interval of time is an understatement with many
exclamation points after it. There was no email, no internet, no browsers, no smartphones. Pace was immeasurably slower,
and yet we were always busy. I think in 40 or 50 years,
I can easily imagine one of you, in this graduating class, standing up at a podium like this, and remarking, you know when I graduated people actually drove
their own cars, amazing, you can’t imagine the wasted
time and traffic delays, and the carnage on the
roads, it was appalling, on, and on, and on it goes,
the world is changing. So I was originally going
to develop that theme for this particular talk, and what it might mean to some of you, but my thoughts were
deflected quite recently by a news report, because
this posed a question, are driverless cars conscious? So the context was quite simple, the car was out driving, passengers in it, it notices the fuel light comes on, hungry, the car is hungry, so it checks the GPS receiver, finds out exactly where it is
on the surface of the Earth, sends a query out to a search engine, and asks for a location of all
the nearby filling stations, it then evaluates routes, other factors, maybe the brand, the
service level, whatever, and then makes a decision and proceeds autonomously to
it’s destination to feed up. That context struck me as fairly simple, and I think that given
McMaster’s expertise in the area of automotive engineering, I suspect there are
many people in this room that could program a car to do most of what I just described. However, I think the implicit assumption behind that story, is that driving a car is actually a very complex activity, and depends upon synthesizing
a multitude of sensory inputs. You assess them and then you act upon it, after some analysis of all
the available information. It strikes me that
that’s a reasonably good description of consciousness. At least at the level of being
aware of your environment, and it includes then also an assessment of the outcomes of what at the end is quite a vast number of possible actions in response to some particular situation. That contextual example of a car, just with the fuel light coming on is quite simple, but
it’s easy to imagine now, much more complicated scenarios. For example, cars will be able to learn what their owners like and expect of them. So the car will be able
to listen to the chatter of the passengers that
it’s ferrying about, and through that it will
pick up all the cues that can guide it’s responses
in any particular situation, so for example on an extended journey, the car discovers that
it’s range is limited, maybe there’s an unexpected washout in the road, and had to detour, and suddenly it realizes it
doesn’t have enough juice to power the car to it’s destination. The car knows that if the adult, it’s gonna take maybe 30, 40 minutes to charge up at some high
throughputs charging station. It does the scenario
we talked about before, but then it’s thinking
about it’s passengers, and it says, well if
the adults are on board maybe I should drop them
off at the nearby Starbucks while I run off and juice up. But then it’s thinking, oh,
the kids are in the car, maybe McDonald’s is a better choice, so the car’s doing this kind of thing. So you get the drift of
where I’m going here. At some poin the dimensions and possible trajectories
through all this reasoning multiply to the point where
it’s simple algorithms. If the light comes on, then I do this, you need a different approach to answer those kinds of questions, and we call that approach these days, artificial intelligence. So the question, I think, is generalized, are advanced artificial
intelligence systems conscious, and I think that that’s a
pretty interesting question, because it affects my field, we are, in astronomy and astrophysics, also experiencing the push of artificial intelligence in what we do. So, I think that
description I went through is actually quite a good
definition of consciousness, so what I’m thinking of,
what about self awareness, is an autonomous car
aware that it is a car? And I’m thinking of these things, because this graduating class and many others of this era standing on the shore of what I would call a vast sea, an uncharted sea, a sea that’s going to be inhabited by all these new species
of artificial intelligence. And that sea will wash over us, it will soak into the
fabric of our societies in unimaginable ways, like
the internet before it, and here’s the rub, these
AI systems will erase some significant fraction of the jobs, that many, perhaps even most of you in this room will be aspiring to. I don’t mean that in a threatening way, I mean it in the way I described earlier, you’re graduating now, and you think you’re
gonna be doing X and Y and it’s all going to be down this road, it won’t be, but I think
that it will change. In fact, many of you in this room are probably going to be involved in the creation of these
systems, one way or the other, but I dare say that even the creators will not be immune from the impact of this artificial intelligence. So there’s something
qualitatively different about thinking about
artificial intelligence that lends itself to
dystopian views of the world. Why is that? In a sense, misery is the stuff of drama, and the plucky humans
battling the evil machines is good fare for the big screen, but I think underneath all that there is a sense that’s been inculcated into us as human beings, that we are distinguished
from everything else, from all the other natural intelligences that exist in our world. We’re distinguished from them by virtue of our superior intelligence, and in fact, the key thing
there is self awareness, but that, thinking down that path, I kinda wonder how much
we really understand about human intelligence, and is our sense of superiority, our sense of dominion just a conceit. Now I’m getting down a rabbit hole, and you can see that it
is almost infinitely deep, so let me loop back. My imaginary artificially intelligent car was already exhibiting a couple of, what I would call human
intelligence traits, HI, we exhibit HI, so these traits would be things like empathy for the
passengers in the car, they would be the ability
to assess the consequences of the actions that we take, and that too is part of awareness. I think that as we go down that path, we then bump into ethical questions, and it is the realm of ethics that surely presents the
terrifically hard nuts that the developers of these AI systems are going to have to crack, as the systems become ubiquitous. So let me turn and look at you again, but now with a different eye. Here you are, the new graduates, you’re newly programmed
human intelligence systems, and you have a very high degree of interaction with one another, that’s another big theme
in the world today, the internet of things. The difference is, I guess,
humans typically interact at a rather low bit rate compared to what the machines can do, but nevertheless we have
other ways of communicating, and that is something which I don’t think we are fully aware of all the time, but as human intelligence systems, I would put it to you, how aware are you? How conscious are you? And I think that as
members of a generation that will likely create and deploy many of these artificial
intelligence systems, I would pose the question,
will you have the awareness of the consequences of your decisions, of your context that shaped the decisions, and shaped the subsequent
actions that you take? I think this is a real challenge ahead. I truly hope so, and I think
that it is institutions, like this great university, McMaster, that give me and many others
hope that this will happen. You as the graduating class, are in a very enviable position. There are amazing
opportunities ahead of you, amazing prospects to change the world, and I am actually not
dystopian in my outlook, I am very optimistic I
would say, Utopian even, in terms of what I think is possible. You will be in the vanguard, all of you, and I wish you well, I
wish you great success, so thank you all very much. (audience applause) – Thank you very much Dr. Fahlman for those wonderful comments. I think you can see why it
was that we were so honored to have Dr. Fahlman
accept an honorary degree from McMaster. Not only is he a superb researcher, but as you can see from his comments, he thinks outside of
the box of his research, and I think that’s what
we hope for everybody, and he’s just a wonderful example of it, and I’m delighted to
be able to welcome him to the McMaster family. Thank you Dr. Fahlman. (audience applause) – This next exchange is the really important
part of our ceremony for our students. Dr. Patrick Deane will now come forward to present the graduands to the Chancellor for admission to their degrees. – Will the graduands please stand? Madame Chancellor, on behalf
of McMaster University Senate, I present to you these
candidates and those in absentia, in order that you may confer the appropriate degrees upon them, and I bear witness that they
are worthy and suitable. – Graduands, by my authority and that of the McMaster
University Senate, I have the great pleasure to admit to those before me today
and those in absentia, to their individual degrees
at McMaster University, with all of the rights and privileges pertaining to those degrees. My sincere congratulations to you all. (audience applause) Please be seated. – Graduates, I now ask each
of you to join me on stage so that the Chancellor
and I may welcome you to the McMaster community of scholars. (soft music) – [Dr. Welch] Ladies and Gentleman, so that each graduate’s name maybe heard, it would be appreciated if during the presentation
of the graduates, you would hold off your
collective applause to the end of each degree ceremony. Thank you. Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Doctor of Philosophy. Siavash Amon, Eta Ebasi Ashu, Blessing Iquo Bassi Archibong, Nicole Lynn Batenberg, Chantel Elizabeth Korine Markle, Shaiya Celena Robinson, Tarushika Vasanthan, Vera Velasco, Anna Korol, Ben Muirhead, Carla Brown, Ashraf Mohamed Ibrahim, Stephanie Anne Kedzior, Yang Liu, Darko Ljubic, Emilia Paron, Vida Rahmani, Michael Shawn Reed, Phillip Tominac, David Bowman, Sabrina Hodgson, Shuai Liang, Amirmasoud Mohtasebi, Kelly Matolko, Wendy Huang, Sina Moallemi, Ahmad Siam, Bai Haoyue, Kiret Dindsa, Sohidull Islam, Zobia Jawed, Shawn Edward Kovacs, Xuesong Chen, Huaying Li, Naby Nikookoran, – [Male Voice] Denis Shumakov, Yuanhao Yu, Matthew Bumstead, Zhao Wang, Jason Au, Kirsten Elizabeth Bell, Karissa Canning, Alison Colleen McDonald, Joshua Nederveen, Hanshuo Liu, Steffi Yee-Mei Woo, Edson Pazur Belido Sosa, Mark Fraser, Kezhuan Gu, Sandip Barui, Sayantee Jana, Alessandro Maria Selvitella, Yuhong Wei, Reza Ghaemi, Chuan Hu, Jinbiao Ning, Mohammed Kamaral Islam Roso, Junfeng Yuan, Ritesh Daya, Melissa Danielle McCradden, Manpreet Sehmbi, Sabria Kaur Syan, Alexander James Cridland, Gwendolyn Marie Eadie, Alannah Mackenzie Hallas, Corey Stan Howard, Angus King Fai Mok, Timothy John Sagan Munsie, Evan Borman, Nicole Lebarr, Lux Li, Tyler Pollock, Alva Tang, Ye Yuan, Zhongzhen Luo, Hamid Mohammed Gholizadeh, (audience applause) – [Male Voice] Madame
Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of
the degree, Master of Arts. Larissa Marie Dibartolo, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you the following graduates of
the degree Master of Science. Rachelle Atrache, Daniel Kuo-Chee Hsieh, Wenjing Hua, Paul Peter Knoops, Adomas Kulesza, Ramandeep Pabla, Yapa Samarasinghe, Shayenthiran Sreetharan, Jonathon Tran, Courtney Young, Urooj Gill, Jennifer Wild, Vinod Prabu, Mojdeh Sayari Nejad, Samantha Katherine Feist, Cristina Marie Genovise, Logan Jung-Ritchie, Ryan Rolick, Alanna Grace Smolarz, Jacob Strong, Kelly Cecilia Whelan, Wei Lu, Shelby Lisabeth Sturrock, Jem Luise Cheng, Florence Elizabeth Godkin, Stacey Priest, Nicole Shen, Jessica Skultety, Tedra Bolger, Brydon Eastman, Evan James Mitchell, Michael James Ridell, Cory Michael Richman, Roohi Sharma, Benjamin Richard Davis-Purcell, Wyatt James Kirkby, Sara Mckenzie-Picot, Jean-Christophe Ono-Dit-Biot, Benjamin Kenneth Dale Pearce, Sean Kentaro Sullivan Takahashi, Rita Abdul-Baki, Stefania Cerisano, Kyung-Hyun Ruth Kim, Jessica Susan Miller, Erica Dao, Thomas Urlich, Sarah Ali Allattas, Angelina Pesevski, Sarah Katherine Ricciuti, Tyler Roick, Peter Alexander Tait. (audience applause) – [Dr. Thompson] Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Master of Applied Science. Mitchell William George Douty, Emily Anne Hicks, Alysha Annette Spadafora, Wael Hassan El Assad, Haoxiang Lai, Hanie Yousefi, Alexander Sciascetti, Sarah Alizadeh, Haoding Lee, Yingchan Qiao, David Shumacher, Daniel Tajik, Keqi Wei, Duo Yang, Wei Zhao, Austin Michael Brown, Edward Matthew Glanfield, Jared Goguen, David Andre Joyal, Travis Scheasgreen, Simon Younan, Kaziz Mahmudul Haque Bhadhon, Evan Mark William Drew, Nilushi Christine Kariyawasam, Keyan Miao, Daniel Alejandro Osorio, Christopher Leandro Pashartis, Marko Arezina, Robert Anson Lau, Paul Richard Ricciuti, Eric Thompson, Min Xu, Mohammed Zaher, Xiaowei Zhang, Nathan Shane Chadder – [Audience Member] Go Nathan! (off mic chatter) Vinay Yuvashankar. (audience applause) – [Male Voice] Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Master of Engineering. Yuhang Jiang, Yue Gui, Nathan Revel DeJong, Zhiwen Guo, Muhammed Zeeshan Ahmed Karim, Ilnaz Vahdati. (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Master
of Engineering Design. Eniola Alese, Chinonso Obinna Amadi, Michael Chukwuma Asuzu, Nathaniel, Akolade AyanLowo, (audience members cheering) Yongxi Chen, Nadim El Dirani, Dashui Hong, Mina Hosseinzadeh, (audience members cheering) Jie Huang, Sarvesh Girish Karandikar, Parminder Kaur, Himanshu Dilipkumar Lad, Pablo Danielle Loscano Montero, (audience members cheering) Shuo Nan Lu, Lovedeep Singh Lotey, Dongye Lu, Christopher Lintz Macedo, Atif Mehmood, Varun Panchal, Sanjina Pradan, Meet Darmendrakumar Shastri, Manpreet Sing Sidhu, Iqbal Singh, Jaspreet Singh, Sandeep Singh, Tahjinder Pal Singh, Yibo Sun, Simrat Singh Thandhi, Yukun Wang, Tegiola Xhemalaj, Fengshuo Yang, Ruobing Zhao, An Zhu. (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Master of
Engineering in Public Policy. Christopher William Boothe, Hatim Elsadig Elamin Elhag, Augusta Obianuju Eruero, Kimberly Elizabeth Jusek, Zhiyuan Yang, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Master of Engineering in Manufacturing Engineering. ZuriSadai Gomez Cruz, (audience members cheering) Patrick Mayer, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Science honours. Hawwa Abdul-Noor, Muhammad Abideen, David Aaceituno-Caicedo, Archana Ahilan, Luke Bayer, Mindy Erin Chapman, Rebecca Zaida Crawford, Jasmine Deol, Waleed Azhar Dillon, Cindy Doan, Amanda Catherine Dorner, Connor Nicholas Egan, Ramtin Ghasemi, Elizabeth Catherine Giles, Rachel Goodland, Maureen Gaureal, Wan Yue Kang, Sidrah Romana Karim, Bakht-Awar Khan, Wai Ying Lam, Chang Liu, Sherry Luo, Colin Brandon MacDonald, Annie Nguyen, (audience members cheering) Isabella Nguyen, Fei Yu Peng, Natasha Profirio, Prashanth Rajasekar, Prabhsimranjhit Singh Rajput, Manvir Singh, (audience members cheering) Dissneya Theiventhirarajah, Christine Yachou, Junyi Zhang, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of
Science Kinesiology honours. Nicole Amatruda, Eric Bertram, Alyssa Caroll Lacroix, (audience members cheering) Nicole Purdie, Joshua Vanderverd, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduate of the degree Bachelor
of Science Kinesiology. Brett Michael Dykstra, Kayleigh Gaiser, Sidney Rae Smith, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Science. Aatiqiha Ashrana Abdin, (audience members cheering) Nafis Addnan, Miriam Armanious, Saleha Fatima Bakht, Aisha Khan, Jinqxuan Li, Laxman Perinpanathan, Giancarlo Valente, Haiyun Wang, (audience applause) – Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of
Engineering and Management. Kieran Arthur Hurst, Uthman Shahbaaz Khan, Benjamin Taylor Metic, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of
Engineering and Society. Christian Florin Ivascu, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the Bachelor of Engineering. Nicholas Michael Annable, Matthew Artemenko, Christopher Kevin Campbell, Gureet Grewell, Bilal Anjum Ishtiaque, Annoj Jeyalingam, Aksheh Raam Manteh, Connor Gill Sheehan, Daniel Webber, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Applied Science. Danielle Christina Schwedt, (audience applause) Madame Chancellor, may I present to you
the following graduates of the degree Bachelor of Technology. Adam Mervyn Anderson, Eddison Balfour, Lawrence Tei-Yen Cheuk, Horia Herman, Meftuh Ahmed Ibrahim, Andre Lori, Garima Kaul, Zuheb Syed Khaja Ajmal Hussain, Gavin Kisun, Frank Weikang Lin, James Marcogliese, Stephen Panarese, Venkatesa Prasanna Ravinuthala, Aamir Shaikh, Gaurav Sharma, Justin Siemens, Gagandeep Syan, Papa Abdoulaye Thiam, Stanislov Tsysar, (audience applause) – Let’s give one more round of applause to all the new graduates
for the class of 2017. (audience applause) Ladies and gentleman, I would now like to introduce
Dr.Tarushika Vasanthan, a PhD graduate in biology who will deliver the
valedictorian address. (audience applause and cheering) Good morning Chancellor Labarge, President Deane, Provost Farrar, McMaster faculty, distinguished guests, family and friends, and most importantly, good morning to you, class of 2017 faculties of
engineering and science. Having completed my
bachelor’s, my master’s, and now my PhD in biology, I am both elated and honored to give the valedictorian address for the fall 2017 graduating class. Together we have embraced the Mac bubble. You can always count on a Mac student to know the ins and outs of where one could find
free coffee and free food. You got pizzas, I got pizzas,
we all got free pizzas. Together we have survived the
perks and quirks of McMaster. Congratulations on
surviving 8:30 lectures, Monday 8:30 lectures, Organic Chemistry, committee meetings, committee reports, a bunch of unsuccessful experiments that led to a single
successful one, hopefully, coming to terms with not getting a P value of less than 0.05, yes, that was quite significant. And if you have been
here as long as I have, then congratulations on surviving Web CT, Elm, Solar, and now Mosaic. All jokes aside, I consider
ourselves beyond fortunate to be living in a country,
enrolled at an institution, where education is perceived
as a right, not a privilege. My parents, like many parents here today, Immigrated to this country, to provide my siblings and I something that they could not easily access, an uninterrupted education. A parent cannot secure a child’s future, if their present is in
a state of uncertainty. Millions of children today are
still denied basic education, the majority of which are females. Why? Because an oppressor knows that once an education is received, it can never be taken away. It is forever yours to keep. The co-recipient of the
2001 Nobel Peace Prize, Mr. Kofi Atta Annan said,
“Knowledge is power, “information is liberating, “education is a premise of progress, “in every society, in every family”. Today, we not only celebrate the success of our achievements, but also the success of
our parent’s achievements. Today, we represent the
progression in our society, the progression within our families. Speaking of families, let me tell you a little bit about mine, my mother is single-handedly the smartest, most courageous woman, correction, the smartest,
most courageous person I know. She stood face to face with a soldier, begging, not for her life,
but that of a 13 year old boy. That day, that 13 year old boy lived, because my mother chose to speak up. When my father was
diagnosed with Leukemia, my mother worked harder to
put a roof over our heads, and always fixed us a hot
meal ever single night. And when my father passed away, she continued to take care of us, playing the role of a father and a mother. In all the darkness that
could have consumed her, my mother’s light never once flickered. She continues to illuminate
wherever she goes. My mother, like all the
mothers present today, is the epitome of persevering
through adversity. I share parts of my mother’s
story here on this stage, in the hopes that it
inspires us, moves us, and encourages us to be
valiant in the face of defeat. Remember, there’s no such
thing as can’t, just won’t. All it takes is will. We are all here today,
because of the will to learn, the will to challenge ourselves, and the will to finish what we started. As we step outside those doors, let us not lose that will. Now, let me tell you about my father. He’s probably watching down, and thinking, please tell them how handsome I was, or how his hair was
perfectly parted to the side. Well forgive me Dad, like Terry, the dancing Tim Horton’s employee we all know and love at McMaster, ever since I could remember, my father was always
the life of the party. When he arrived onto a dance floor, there was simply no competition. Now, I’d like to be very clear, he was no Michael Jackson by any means, but his spirit, oh his spirit
was undoubtedly infectious. Like the second floor of
commons at Mills Library on any given day, or like the HSR buses we have all squeezed into, my father’s dancing
always drew in a crowd. His laughter was infectious,
his optimism was uplifting, and his moves, slightly embarrassing. University has been a lot
like my father’s dancing, a mixture of laughter, optimism, and slightly embarrassing life choices, but it’s the culmination of these moments of sorrow and laughter, of vulnerability and invincibility, of failures and successes, that has shaped us, impacted
us, and sustained us, to the version of ourselves
that we see today, and we are better for it. So, as we embark on the
next phase of our lives, let us remember to dance like our fathers, liberated and free, let us remember to be
courageous like our mothers, overcome defeat, and wherever
you go, whatever you do, know that no student
is quite like a student that graduates from McMaster. You, class of 2017, are
already ahead of the game, so show ’em how it’s done. Congratulations, we did it. (audience applause) – Thank you Tarushika. May I now introduce Don Bridgman, President of the McMaster
alumni association, who will present the
Distinguished Alumni Award for the sciences category. – The recipient of the
2017 McMaster University Distinguished Alumni Award is Brian Bloom. (audience applause) A graduate of McMaster’s
biochemistry program in 1998, Brian Bloom continued his academic career as a PhD candidate in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the Mount Sinai School
of Medicine in New York. Having completed the
Canadian Securities Course long before he’d earned
his McMaster degree, Mr. Bloom decided to combine his medical and financial
expertise by pursuing a career that connected biotechnology
and investment. He began working as an
investment banking analyst, and then an equity research
associate in New York before returning to Canada in 2003 to join Dundee Securities Corporation. Over half a decade there,
he played a key role in building his Dundee division into the most profitable healthcare banking team in the country. In 2008 Mr. Bloom co-founded and became chairman and CEO
of Bloom, Burton, and Co, a firm specializing in healthcare related investment banking. The company is now Canada’s premier life sciences investment bank. One of the firm’s signature contributions is the Bloom Burton Healthcare
Investment Conference, which now attracts more than
1,000 participants annually. Mr. Bloom is also actively
involved in guiding the process of several start-up companies that he and his firm have supported. He is a co-founder and member
of the board of directors of Qing Bile Therapeutics
based in Vancouver, as well as the co-founder and chairman of Toronto based Grey Wolf Animal Health, Halifax based Appili Therapeutics, and Triumvira Immunologics, which is a McMaster University spin-out corporation based in Hamilton. Mr. Bloom has dedicated himself to a number of sector and
not for profit boards, where his unique expertise makes his contribution
particularly valuable. A past member of the Advisory Board of the Cell Therapy Institute at Princess Margaret Hospital, and the University of Toronto. He also served on the Advisory board for McMaster’s Farrencombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute, and has been a strong
advocate and champion for the development of
the Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization Program at McMaster. Mr. Bloom is currently a member
of the boards of directors for Biotech and the Baycrest
Hospital Foundation, as well as the National Research Counsel of Canada’s Life Sciences Advisory Board. McMaster is proud to
recognize Mr. Brian Bloom of the class of ’98 with the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award. – Thank you so much. (audience applause) (off mic chatter) – Congratulations Brian. I now want to introduce Tammy Hwang, a 2005 Commerce graduate
and a representative of the McMaster Alumni Association. Tammy will now deliver the
Alumni Association Address. – Chancellor Labarge, President Deane, McMaster faculty, fellow alumni, honored guests, and especially the members of McMaster’s class of 2017, thank you for the
opportunity to speak today, and congratulations. Not long ago, I was in the
audience here at convocation, and instead of being on stage, I was where you are, and there are a couple
things that you need to know. First off, the Chancellor’s
robes are awesome, second, Hamilton Place
looks way bigger from here, and to the newest members of our McMaster Alumni Association, I wanna welcome you to the
McMaster Alumni family. On behalf of more than 180,000 members who have come before you, it’s a big and diverse group, and I know you’re gonna fit in just fine. Right now, you may feel
like there’s no big reason to stay connected to the Alumni
Association, but there is, especially in the first
few years after graduation, the Association can do a lot for you. Our Mac10 program for example, provides social activities,
career assistance, online and in person networking. We’ve even added a mentoring program that gives you access to the wisdom of hundreds of fellow McMaster graduates, and a career services program that can include advice and support from our very own alumni career counselor. You’ll learn about the Mac10
and other alumni programs if you watch for emails from guys like Chris Picard and Scott, who coordinate the program for us. Pick and choose the opportunities
that mean the most to you, and the association can do everything from connecting you to an
alumni hangout in a new city, to helping you get a
great deal on insurance for your first car or apartment. There’s way more information at, and in the emails you’ll be getting, so you don’t need me to run
through the whole list of them, you’re all Mac grads and I trust your research
abilities completely, instead let me finish by
encouraging you to stay connected. You’ll receive Mac, the
alumni news magazine, and Maroon Mail our E-newsletter, and you can also be a part of
the association’s communities on Twitter, Facebook,
Instagram, LinkedIn, Myspace, okay maybe not Myspace. Your relationship with
McMaster should really continue beyond the moment you
return your graduation gown. I hope it does. I hope that the university is a part of your growth and your progress, your story, and your life
for a really long time. Really you’re just getting started. Today is a great day for all of you, I’m actually a little jealous. Congratulations, enjoy
your accomplishment, and welcome to the McMaster
Alumni Association family, thank you. (Audience applause) – Thank you Tammy. I now invite Dr. Deane back to the podium to deliver his President’s Address. – Madame Chancellor, distinguished guests, esteemed colleagues, graduates,
and ladies and gentleman, about 18 months ago from this same podium, I spoke to a graduating
class such as yours about the nature of the relationship between education and society. That occasion was informed
by the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission of Canada, which had recently appeared, and I wanted graduates to understand that the dark history of
residential schools in this country was profoundly relevant to all of them, not only as human beings for whom the suffering of others
must always be relevant, but as the beneficiaries
of a quality education, and as the educators of the future. While education understood in the abstract as the cultivation of human potential must always be a good thing, one cannot say the same
for the institutions through which societies seek
to educate their members. One lesson of the residential schools is that when education becomes
deliberate acculturation, it can be antithetical to
the wellbeing of individuals and thwart their potential, instead of building healthy communities characterized by diversity
and respect for difference. Such institutions compel homogeneity and encourage intolerance. They serve the political
interests of the state, rather than the good of society, if I can put it that way. That universities exist to serve society has been taken for granted
in the western academy at least since the 18th century when belief in the value of building great public universities took hold in Germany and
then spread to North America. In the United States, the
Morrill acts of 1862 and 1890 established the so-called
land grant universities for the public good, providing instruction in what was called agriculture
and the mechanic arts, which would bring
immediate economic benefit to the community, as well as education in the traditional
liberal arts and sciences, which would impower the individual and in the long term redound to the benefit of society at large. The Canadian university system is overwhelmingly a public system. The country’s top 15
research universities, amongst which McMaster ranks
first for research intensity, are all public institutions, deriving significant operating revenues from the public purse, and established under
provincial legislation, or at least in two significant
cases, a royal charter. 80% of all university
research conducted in Canada occurs on campuses of the 15 research intensive universities, and the value of that is approximately 8-1/2 billion dollars a year. Those same 15 universities
confer more than 75% of all PhD degrees
awarded in this country, and they therefore provide the bulk of the country’s sophisticated research and development labor pool, and they contribute more
than 36 billion dollars to the Canadian economy every year. These figures tell you two things about the system from which
you are about to graduate. One is that a consensus
exists in this country that higher education is vitally important for the national good, and therefore worthy of
public support at all levels, and the other is that those of us privileged to work and
study in these institutions have an obligation to
mobilize what we have learned and what we have discovered, for the good of our communities. And just as we derive moral
as well as material support from our city, our region,
our province, our country, the benefits of our work
should in some way accrue in each of those spheres as well. My hope today is that
you will pause to think about the idea of community,
about particular communities, such as the ones you come from, the ones you’ve been a part of during your time at McMaster, the one you join by
becoming a McMaster alumnus, the others you’ll enter
when you leave here, and also about how you can
best take your lessons learned and skills developed in this community and turn them to the benefit
of your new and future ones. I made a distinction earlier between community, society, and state, and I implied that although educators and public educational institutions have obligations to all three, their relations with the state as a political entity can
be seriously problematic, indeed, hazardous sometimes to the integrity of their mission. And that is where the doctrine of academic freedom intervenes. As Wilhelm Von Humboldt,
credited as the great architect of the modern research
university, wrote in 1810, this is a quote from him, the state must understand
that intellectual work will go infinitely better without it. Because by and large such an understanding does prevail in Canada, universities enjoy a comparatively higher degree of autonomy, and have been able to establish themselves as privileged communities that are both places of learning, and an ongoing experiment
in social formation. And by that I mean the following, by virtue of being self-governing, largely unencumbered by the challenges of non-academic communities, bound together by a clear
and compelling mission, and afforded certain
protections by society in order to do the work that
society needs to be done, university communities have the potential to model a kind of social ideal. That is why institutions like McMaster commit themselves to
progressive social values, to equity and inclusion, to democratic and collegial processes, to mutual respect linked
to freedom of expression, and to the freedom to
protest all commitments, which are on the one hand understood to be necessary for optimal
learning and discovery, and on the other, the least
that is owed by the university to the community at large, in acknowledgement of the privileged place which such institutions enjoy in the social and economic
fabric of the country. From that laboratory then, emerged graduates like yourselves, and innovations and insights of all kinds that will help the world
beyond the university become better and brighter. I noted earlier that McMaster
was recently recognized as Canada’s most research
intensive university, and many of you graduating this morning will have had a role in
the groundbreaking research that is conducted in our
institution every day. Your professors are world experts
in a wide range of fields, and are dedicating themselves to solving the world’s greatest challenges, from antibiotic resistance
and cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, autism and diabetes, to climate change, globalization, and the need for
alternative energy sources. In the McMaster nuclear reactor scientists are developing nuclear tools for medical diagnosis and treatment, providing the world’s largest
supply of radioisotopes for the treatment of prostate cancer, and assaying turbine engine blades for every passenger jet engine operating in North America. And now, thanks to a number
of very generous gifts from our chancellor, McMaster has also become a leading venue for the study and mitigation of a human challenge none
of us can escape, aging, and that is appropriate given that our university is also home to some of the world’s
largest health cohort studies. Following communities in this
country and around the world to examine patterns in health and wellness from conception to death. In all of these areas,
and many others besides, the McMaster community is serving the national and global
community beyond it’s walls. Social analysis and innovation born here is bringing benefit to
communities elsewhere. Studies in culture and history are deepening the global understanding of what it is to be human, and creativity fostered on our campus ripples outwards enriching
life here and abroad. The work of McMaster in short is to advance the health and the wellbeing of human beings and communities in Canada and across the world. And that is a singular goal to which all our various
disciplines contribute, and in service of which,
they come together. In closing though, I want
to talk about all of you, as the critical means by which the work of this university community is mobilized to help create a brighter world. As I’ve already noted, many of you have played important roles in the research enterprise
here at McMaster, and in that sense, you’ve already made a considerable impact, especially perhaps if you’ve been involved in community engaged research. Probably more of you have had the benefit of experiential learning opportunities in the Hamilton community,
co-ops, clinical placements, internships, service learning, and so on, through which, I hope you have
come to understand the extent to which your personal
growth and prosperity has a symbiotic relationship with the evolving health and wellbeing of society at large. That is the main point which I
wish to leave with you today. Despite my having noted several times that universities enjoy
a privileged position to some extent apart from the communities in which they reside, it is a fact that whatever privileges they enjoy are conferred on them by society. Universities have autonomy because society believes it
is important that they do so, not because it is their
right in the abstract, or because it has been
ordained from on high, but because the complex ecosystem within which personal fulfillment
and community progress are held together, requires it. Take care to remember that
you’re part of that ecosystem, and that is something that
is not necessarily easy to do on celebratory occasions like this, when we do celebrate the
individual achievements of every one of you as individuals. But this is an occasion when
standing out from the crowd is in a significant measure,
the mark of success. There are more than 1.7 million students studying in Canada this
year in 96 universities. If you consider that overall only 28% of adults in this country
have a university education, graduates like yourselves are joining a minority
segment of the population. Furthermore, you are graduating
from an elite institution. McMaster University is
currently ranked 66th out of approximately 24,000
universities worldwide, and stands thus in the top 1% globally. All of this means that
you are today graduating with an enormous personal advantage, and compared with the
majority of your peers in this country and across the globe, the odds of success are very
much stacked in your favor. It is vital to remember however, that while your success
reflects very positively on your individual abilities and talents, your success is also a communal triumph. It has been made possible
by the many communities of which you are a part, beginning with your families and friends, extending into your school, as well as this university community, and outwards into the global community where tragically, the success of some comes at a price that
must be paid by others. It is only reasonable then to ask you, as you leave this place, to see your personal
fortune as inseparable from and forever dedicated
to the communal good. We are immensely proud of you, we have great faith in all
of you, and in particular, in your ability to make
this a brighter world. My best wishes go with you all, thank you very much. (audience applause) – Congratulations, the class of 2017, as a fellow alumni, I’m looking forward to see
where you go from here. As Miss Hwang said, you’re now a member of
this larger alumna group, and you must admit that when
you look at your valedictorian, and our Distinguished Alumni Award winner, it’s a good group to be part of, and so I encourage you
to really participate. I just wanna make a couple of comments about today in itself. Having graduated over 50 years ago now, the one thing I can tell you is, you probably won’t remember
what anybody here said, in fact, I can assure
you that by next year you won’t remember who the chancellor was if you ever knew, and eventually you’ll forget who the
president was, et cetera, but what is interesting, and it’s like your whole education here, is you may not remember the specifics, but you absorb from all of us, something, and you build it into what you are, so what I must admit
is, I may not remember that it was Dr. Fahlman who said it, but I will every time
I see an autonomous car say does it know it’s a car? (audience laughing) And it’s that that makes
up the knowledge base, and it’s back to the comments
that President Deane made. As a member of a community here, you have been fortunate enough to mix with a wide range of people in areas that are not just yours, to be able to ask the kind of questions, to think the kind of questions that Dr. Fahlman raised today. When you leave here, you’re gaining part of a larger society, but you’re also gonna
be subsumed by the fact you’re now trying to
establish yourself in a job, you’re setting up a family, and it’s so easy with our current world, to stay in a bubble that says, these are the people I know,
these are the people I talk to, and you’re in the echo chamber. You have a great opportunity, whether it’s through
the alumni association, through your colleagues, to reach out, to remember you are part
of a larger community, and to try and understand
what’s going on there as you create your own life. It’s a great opportunity, and I think all of you
are going to enjoy it. And I also wanna come back is, today really is, although
we do it as a group, a celebration of your
individual accomplishments, but there isn’t, and I know, any one of you here, who won’t say, but I couldn’t have done
it without my parents, you’re right, you couldn’t have done it
without your friends, absolutely. What would you have
done without the support of the faculty? Difficult to think. But eventually you had
to make the decisions as to what you wanted to do, what you wanted to be, how
hard you wanted to work, so that you could stand here
today to get your degree, and that is something you’ll find, you will get very, there’s very
little personal recognition, as you go forward into a larger society. This is one time when we are celebrating your personal accomplishments, so I wanna congratulate
each and every one of you, and wish you the very
best as you go forward. Now I’m gonna just do my
normal little wrap up here, which is to say, would you please remain
standing at your seats until the academic
procession and the graduates have left the hall? And finally, please
join now in the singing of the national anthem. After the singing of the anthem, this convocation stands adjourned. ♪ O Canada! ♪ ♪ Our home and native land! ♪ ♪ True patriot love in
all our hearts command. ♪ ♪ With glowing hearts we see thee rise, ♪ ♪The True North strong and free! ♪ ♪ From far and wide, ♪ ♪ O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. ♪ ♪ God keep our land glorious and free! ♪ ♪ O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. ♪ ♪ O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. ♪ (audience applause) (processional music)