U of A names Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina and Esi Edugyan as honorary degree recipients for 2019 spring convocation

President of the African Development Bank Group, Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina and one of Canada’s foremost authors, Esi Edugyan are among 13 exceptional individuals who will receive honorary degrees at the University of Alberta’s graduation ceremonies this June.

According to the school’s website:

“Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina, president of the African Development Bank Group, has dedicated his life to helping feed Africa and reduce poverty, especially among women and children. For more than 30 years, he has spearheaded policies to increase investment in agriculture and give millions of farmers access to financing and credit, improved seeds, and fertilizers. As agriculture minister in Nigeria from 2010-2015, he ended decades of corruption in the fertilizer industry, brought in a new rice breed that helped the country become self-sufficient and developed an innovative “e-wallet” system that provided microloans directly to more than 15 million farmers using their mobile phones. In 2010, he was appointed one of 17 global leaders to galvanize international support for the UN Millennial Development Goals. In 2017, he received the top international award in agriculture, the World Food Prize.”


“Esi Edugyan has emerged as one of Canada’s foremost authors over a remarkably short time. Through her exploration of black migration and the struggle for respect in predominantly white cultures, she has made an indelible mark on Canadian literature. Her first novel, The Second Life of Samuel Tyne, was set in Amber Valley, Alberta, and was shortlisted for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award in 2005. Her second novel, Half-Blood Blues (2011), won the Giller Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, Governor General’s Award and Women’s Prize for Fiction. Her third novel, Washington Black (2018), was shortlisted for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Washington Black also won the Giller Prize, making Edugyan only the third writer to win the award twice.”

They will be honored alongside respected Cree  Elder, Sarah Jerome; Community Leaders, Carman McNary and Vivian Manasc,  CEO of the Edmonton Community Foundation, Martin Garber-Conrad; CEO of JA (Junior Achievement) Europe, Caroline Jenner,  President of the Institute of International Education (IIE), Allan Goodman; professor emerita of oncology and adjunct professor of biochemistry at the U of A, Carol Cass; One of the world’s pre-eminent protein biochemists, Cyril Kay, Cree Elder from the Saddle Lake First Nation, Elder Francis Whiskeyjack; first woman to be appointed chief justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, Chief Justice Mary Moreau and internationally recognized classical composer, Allan Bell.

Akinwumi Adesina will receive an honorary doctor of science degree June 4 at 3 p.m while Esi Edugyan will receive an honorary doctor of letters degree June 13 at 10 a.m.

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