McGill to honour Canadian trailblazers

As part of the Fall 2017 convocation ceremonies, McGill will confer honorary doctorates upon Heather Munroe-Blum and Heather Reisman for their dedication to the advancement of education and literacy.
McGill will confer honorary doctorates upon Heather Munroe-Blum (left) and Heather Reisman as part of the 2017 Fall Convocation ceremonies.

McGill will confer honorary doctorates upon two remarkable women during the Fall 2017 convocation ceremonies. Heather Munroe-Blum and Heather Reisman will be awarded the University’s highest honour for their dedication to the advancement of education and literacy.

Heather Munroe-Blum has led a long and illustrious career as a psychiatric epidemiologist and academic administrator. Appointed in 2003 as McGill University’s 16th Principal and Vice-Chancellor, she was the first woman to serve in that role. Dr. Munroe-Blum was a vocal champion for education accessibility, and increasing financial support for students, academics and research. She continues her personal commitment to McGill through her volunteer leadership with initiatives such as the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute and the Bensadoun School of Retail Management. Principal Emerita Munroe-Blum will receive an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Science honoris causa) during the first Fall convocation ceremony, which will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 31.

The same day, Heather Reisman, will be awarded an honorary doctorate (Doctor of Letters honoris causa) during the 2:30 p.m. ceremony. A passionate advocate for the transformative power of literacy and education, Ms. Reisman is the Chair of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation, which has donated millions of books to more than 3,000 high-need Canadian public elementary school libraries since its inception in 2004. She is the founder of Indigo, Canada’s largest book retailer, which employs more than 6,200 people across 10 provinces and one territory, and co-founder of KOBO, the global e-reading company.

“This fall, we will pay tribute to two exceptional leaders committed to education and its profound impact on human lives,” said Professor Suzanne Fortier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill. “By supporting early childhood literacy, Heather Reisman has established the building blocks for lifelong learning and long-term success. Heather Munroe-Blum’s decades of service in higher education, including as Principal of McGill, have been dedicated to accessibility and innovation in higher education for all. What these women share is a deep dedication to breaking down the barriers to learning, and to giving Canadians the tools essential to create a vibrant future.”

Both convocation ceremonies will take place at Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Place des Arts.

Heather Munroe-Blum, O.C., O.Q, F.R.S.C., M.S.R.C


In 2003, Heather Munroe-Blum was appointed McGill University’s 16th Principal and Vice-Chancellor, the first woman to serve in the role. Professor Munroe-Blum led the University through the dynamic first decade of this millennium to achieve new levels of contributions and success. She championed the dramatic enhancement of student life, deepened the University’s engagement with the community, oversaw unprecedented renewal of McGill’s outstanding professoriate, the extensive development of the McGill Academic Health Network, and the forging of innovative domestic and international partnerships.

Her unwavering efforts to find necessary resources to maintain McGill’s excellence resulted in the ground-breaking success of a Capital Campaign, which by 2013 had raised over $1 billion dollars for financial educational support to McGill’s students, innovative teaching, and outstanding scholarship and research. Her achievements are also evident in her role as a distinguished scholar in the fields of psychiatric epidemiology and public policy, where she has authored or co-authored more than 70 scholarly publications. Munroe-Blum currently serves as Chairperson of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) and on numerous not-for-profit and corporate boards and advisory councils.

Heather M. Reisman, C.M.

Heather Reisman is one of Canada’s foremost entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Ms. Reisman established and continues to lead Indigo, Canada’s largest book and lifestyle retailer.  She is also co-founder of KOBO, the global e-reading company she launched in 2009. Her business achievements are matched only by her unwavering dedication to education, culture and society.  A champion of literacy, Reisman is the founder and chair of the Indigo Love of Reading Foundation which has to date provided millions of books to under-resourced public libraries across Canada.

In 2015, the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation made a substantial donation to the McGill Centre for Research on Children and Families to support scholarly work on childhood literacy programs, including the Love of Reading Initiative, and a post-doctoral fellowship. She established the first ever Canadian Chair in Nursing Science, and was the lead donor for the Frank Gehry Visiting Chair in Architectural Design, both at University of Toronto.  In 2010, she launched a world-wide effort to save a woman from being stoned to death causing the Iranian government to back off from their intended course of action. Reisman was awarded the 2015 Desautels Management Achievement award. She is the recipient of Honorary Degrees from five distinguished Canadian Universities, is a recipient of the Order of Canada, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.