The University of Guelph will confer Medals of Merit and grant the distinction of University Professor Emeritus/Emerita to several faculty at this year’s summer convocation. 

Awarded by the University Senate, the Medal of Merit is awarded to a professor who has retired from the University and who has made outstanding contributions to teaching, the functioning of the University, or other areas which have resulted in substantial improvement to the academic life and character of the University.

The honour of University Professor Emeritus/Emerita may be given to a retired professor who continues their scholarly association with the University. The prime criterion for nominations will be sustained, outstanding scholarship of such a level that it is recognized internationally.

Among the recipients are leading figures in Canadian literature and theatre, and globally renowned researchers in animal and plant research, rural history, and more.  

The University’s summer convocation ceremonies will be held from Tuesday, June 11 to Friday, June 14. For a full schedule, visit this link

Medal of Merit

Dr. Terry Graham

Graham has been a constant advocate for improving the student learning experience in the College of Biological Sciences. 

He was instrumental to the formation of the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, which he chaired for a decade. He championed numerous initiatives, most notably the Human Anatomy Lab, and helped establish the popular Applied Science program in Kinesiology at the University of Guelph-Humber. 

Graham was fundamental to the formation to the Health and Performance Centre, helped to form the Human Nutraceutical Research Unit to support applied nutritional research, established the College of Biological Science’s first course-based master’s program, and supported the development of the Guelph Family Health Study. 

Medal of Merit and University Professor Emeritus

Dr. Neil MacLusky

Along with a University Professor Emeritus designation, MacLusky is also this year’s recipient of the Medal of Merit, which recognizes those who have made outstanding contributions to teaching, academic life and the functioning of the University.  

Internationally recognized for his research on neuroendocrinology, Dr. MacLusky has fundamentally transformed our understanding of the biology of sex hormones. 

A long-standing Chair of the Department of Biomedical Sciences, MacLusky played a pivotal role in developing the neuroscience minor program into a collaborative undergraduate and graduate program, one of the most sought-after fields of study. He was also responsible for developing the Master of Biological Science.  

University Professors Emeriti

Dr. Shai Barbut  

For 39 years, Dr. Barbut has taught in the Department of Food Science and has established himself as one of the most globally renowned experts in the meat industry. 

The author of four books and over 300 peer reviewed journal articles, Barbut’s research on poultry and red meat has answered some of the most fundamental questions regarding meat quality and food safety. He is also a special professor of Meat Science at Wageningen University.

An inductee in the American Poultry Science Hall of Fame, and a Fellow of the Institute of Food Technologists, Barbut has had international impact in the industry. His latest textbook The Science of Poultry and Meat Processing, available free on the web in English, Spanish and Chinese, demonstrates his commitment to sharing knowledge and advancing science.

Prof. Dionne Brand  

Dionne Brand smiles while leaning against a bookshelf

A renowned poet, novelist, essayist, mentor, documentarian and educator, Prof. Brand’s time at the College of Arts has been devoted to literary excellence and social justice.  

The author of more than 22 books and a leading figure in 20th and early 21st century literature, Brand has been central to the development of many writers, both emerging and established, who are shaping contemporary Canadian letters. 

Her critically acclaimed texts, including her recent novel What We All Long For, weave universal themes of identity, love and loss, while speaking about society’s greatest challenges regarding gender, race, history and the environment.  


Dr. Michael Emes 

Dr. Emes is a globally recognized plant scientist who has brought international acclaim to U of G. For over 40 years, he has been an exceptional leader who has revealed the mechanisms of plant metabolism and starch synthesis and keeps an active lab to this day.  

As former dean of the College of Biological Science — the longest serving in the University’s history — he helped integrate five biological disciplines and championed experiential learning and interdisciplinary research.

With leadership and vision, he oversaw the construction of the Summerlee Science Complex, which has become a vast research and teaching space for our University.  

Dr. Robert Friendship 

Dr. Friendship is world-renowned for his applied research in swine health management. His expertise has brought immediate value to swine producers, veterinarians and allied industry personnel all over the world.   

In the Department of Population Medicine, he has been an integral leader, acting as research coordinator for many years and providing pivotal contributions to the design and construction of the new Ontario Swine Research Centre.   

The recipient of the distinguished professor award for teaching excellence and the Pfizer Award for research excellence among others, Friendship has inspired a generation of students and their success.  

Dr. Sky Gilbert  

An internationally renowned playwright, actor, novelist, filmmaker and activist, Dr. Gilbert has fundamentally transformed Canadian theatre and queer theatrical expression.  

His work has paved the way for queer representation, showcasing stories of gay people and their relationships without judgment for the first time in Canadian theatre. In 1997, he founded the celebrated Canadian company Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto, serving as its director for 17 years. 

He performs under the drag persona of Jane, a character who has been crucial to pushing the bounds of queer expression. As The Globe and Mail wrote: Gilbert “has more theatrical flair in his little finger than anybody else in the Toronto scene.” 

Dr. Doug Goff

A faculty member for 35 years in the Department of Food Science, Dr. Goff’s outstanding contributions to dairy science and food colloid research have brought the U of G international acclaim.   

His expertise in ice cream and frozen desserts, dairy chemistry and processing and the structure and functionality of food has been vital to understanding the ingredients, manufacturing and quality of our food today.  

Inspiring a generation with his work, Goff has achieved remarkable scholarship while serving as undergraduate coordinator in Food Science for 28 years.  

Dr. Gordon Kirby 

A world-class researcher in toxicology, Dr. Kirby is renowned for creating an innovative laboratory that embraces cutting-edge technologies and collaborates on an international scale.   

His work has been pivotal in the early detection of diseases, such as Johne’s Disease and subclinical mastitis in dairy cows.  

Dr. Kirby has been a fierce advocate for science-driven decision-making in drug regulation as a member of key scientific advisory committees such as the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.   

Dr. Peter Pauls 

A world leader in bean breeding, Dr. Pauls has made fundamental advances in the use of crop plants for food and bioproducts. He has developed over 65 bean varieties; many of which are licensed for production in Canada, U.S. and France.  

His OAC Rex navy bean variety was the first of its kind, becoming a model for understanding molecular mechanisms of disease resistance in plants. Pauls’ Dynasty variety has become one of the most popular dark red kidney bean varieties in North America. 

A faculty member in the Ontario Agricultural College since 1986, he has advised more than 75 graduate students, many of whom now occupy positions in academia and industry. 

Dr. Catharine Wilson  

An international leader in history, Dr. Catharine Wilson has been a central figure for the study of rural history in Canada and has played a critical role in establishing the University as a centre for excellence in this study.  

She has revealed profound insights into the everyday lives, families and cultural practices of 19th and 20th century people. Wilson’s research has been internationally acclaimed, praised for being both meticulous and intimate, telling stories that otherwise would have been lost. 

Dr. Paul Woods 

Dr. Woods’ vision and leadership led to the creation of an internationally recognized veterinary cancer centre that continues to provide exceptional teaching, service and research.  

Woods co-founded the Institute for Comparative Investigation, the first in Canada to integrate the expertise of human cancer researchers with veterinary oncologists.  

With the support of the OVC Pet Trust, he developed the Mona Campbell Centre for Animal Cancer, the most comprehensive animal cancer treatment and One Health translational research centre in Canada.