2022 Honorary Degrees

St. Stephen's College is delighted to announce Dr. Jean Waters and Mr. Jim Gurnett as the Award and Honorary Degree recipients for 2022.  In various ways, both of these exceptional individuals have made substantive and lasting contributions to the fields of mental and spiritual health, feminist theology, women’s spirituality, housing and homelessness, immigration/refugee services, and/or social services.

j-waters-125.jpgDr. Margaret Jean Waters (DMin, MTS, MSW, BA) is recognized with the Order of St. Stephen’s College for the many ways she has advanced professional counselling communities, furthered women’s studies in therapy and spirituality, and for her long history with—and many positive contributions to—St. Stephen’s College and its learning community.  As a social worker and Certified Specialist in Pastoral Counselling, Dr. Waters was recognized as a leader in working with issues of sexuality, professional ethics, healing from abusive situations, and the promotion of mental health and spiritually integrated well-being.  As a faculty member who served the College in various capacities for thirty-five years, Dr. Waters gave leadership to the College’s masters and doctoral programs, and she taught courses in Feminist Theology, Women’s Spirituality, Women and Religion, Pastoral Counselling, and Counselling Skills.  Through all of this, Dr. Waters embodied the vision of St. Stephen’s College simply by being a spiritual seeker and compassionate leader who modeled constancy, availability, advocacy, and hope.

jim-gurnett-125.jpgJames Gurnett (BA) is honoured with the Doctor of Sacred Letters, honoris causa for his lifetime of national and international activities, advocacy, and devotion toward social justice, protecting human rights, and to improving the human condition.  After beginning his career in education, Gurnett served a short while in the Alberta Legislature as a member of the NDP for the constituency of Spirit River-Fairview; subsequently, he went on to serve as Director of Communications and Outreach for the Official Opposition of the Alberta Legislature and as the Chief of Staff for the NDP caucus.  Outside the political sphere, Gurnett has taken leadership in innumerable community betterment activities, including serving as the founding Executive Director of the Hope Foundation, Executive Director for the Edmonton Mennonite Center for Newcomers, an active member of the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies, chair of the Canadian Immigrant Settlement Sector Alliance, strong supporter of the Center for Victims of Trauma and Torture, spokesperson for the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness, and many other local, national, and international justice-based organizations.  Most notably, Gurnett has been a tireless advocate for the homeless and in working to ensure all people have an opportunity to access good housing.  His leadership and compassion in all these areas demonstrates his deep commitment to the flourishing of his fellow human beings and to the betterment of the human family.

Please visit our 2022 Award Recipients page to read more about Dr. Waters, Mr. Gurnett, and the contributions for which they are being recognized.

St. Stephen’s College confers honorary degrees and awards each year at the College’s annual convocation ceremony. This year, the 98th Annual Convocation will be held on November 7, 2022. Details can be found on our Convocation website. The convocation address this year—titled, “Being a Transforming Agent in Society”—will be delivered by Jim Gurnett, recipient of the Doctor of Sacred Letters, honoris causa.

Since 1917, St. Stephen's College has granted honorary degrees in recognition of individuals who have made exceptional contributions of leadership or ministry, either to their faith community or in spiritually integrated ways to the broader human community. Honorary degrees and awards are granted to individuals whose meritorious work embodies and extends the mission of St. Stephen's College. St. Stephen's College is an affiliated degree-granting graduate college of the University of Alberta.