Honorary degrees at York University convocations Thursday – Mark Lievonen and Hélène Comay


TORONTO, June 18, 2015 – Life sciences leader, businessman and philanthropist Mark Lievonen will receive an honorary degree from York University on Thursday, June 18 and speak to graduating students at their 10:30am convocation ceremony. Early childhood educator, pioneer and mentor Hélène Comay will also be awarded an honorary degree and will speak to students at the 3:30pm convocation.

J. Mark Lievonen

J. Mark Lievonen

Mark Lievonen – Life sciences leader, businessman, philanthropist
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Lassonde School of Engineering and Faculty of Science – Thursday, June 18, 10:30am

Lievonen (BBA ’79, MBA ’87) is president of Sanofi Pasteur Limited, the Canadian vaccine division of Sanofi. Under his leadership, Sanofi Pasteur has become a billion dollar enterprise in Canada, manufacturing over 50 million doses of vaccines for both domestic and international markets.

Known for lending his considerable experience to his varied service roles in the biotechnology sector and beyond, Lievonen has served on a number of industry and community boards and councils. They include Oncolytics Biotech Inc., the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Public Policy Forum, Markham Stouffville Hospital, Ontario-Quebec Private Sector Advisory Committee, the Ontario Investment and Trade Advisory Committee, and Canada’s Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D).

Lievonen is a graduate of York University’s Schulich School of Business. He has been a long-serving member of the York University Board of Governors and a director on the York University Development Corporation. From 2012 to 2013, he played a key role in helping to guide the development of the University’s strategic research plan, Building on Strength 2013-2018.

Helene Comay

Helene Comay

Hélène Comay – Early childhood educator, pioneer, mentor
Honorary Doctor of Laws
Faculty of Education –
Thursday, June 18, 3:30pm

A trailblazer in the field of early childhood education, Comay has been one of the most important nursery school teachers in Toronto since 1957. Born in Paris in 1926, her interest in this field began in the late 1940s in England, where she took the opportunity to consult Anna Freud, daughter of Sigmund Freud, about a future in this area.

Comay’s contributions to Canadian society stem from her leadership of the JCC Preschool (formerly the YMHA) at Bloor and Spadina in Toronto, beginning in 1961 up to her retirement in 2005. She has been involved in research projects at SickKids and the University of Toronto, while training countless early childhood teachers. For many years, she also volunteered her time providing after-school art classes for severely disadvantaged children in inner-city schools.

Comay continues to teach, through an individualized, play-based program, the of her former preschool pupils at a nursery school founded by families and teachers devoted to her vision, and named in her honour.

Convocation ceremonies will take place at the Convocation Pavilion located at the Aviva Centre (formerly the Rexall Centre), 1 Shoreham Drive, at York University’s Keele campus (#8 on map).

The ceremony will be webcast at the following link, which will become live when it begins: http://www.yorku.ca/mygrad/livewebcast.

York University is helping to shape the global thinkers and thinking that will define tomorrow. York U’s unwavering commitment to excellence reflects a rich diversity of perspectives and a strong sense of social responsibility that sets us apart. A York U degree empowers graduates to thrive in the world and achieve their life goals through a rigorous academic foundation balanced by real-world experiential education. As a globally recognized research centre. York U is fully engaged in the critical discussions that lead to innovative solutions to the most pressing local and global social challenges. York U’s 11 faculties and 25 research centres are thinking bigger, broader and more globally, partnering with 280 leading universities worldwide. York U’s community is strong − 55,000 students, 7,000 faculty and staff, and more than 275,000 alumni.


Media Contact:
Sandra McLean, York University, 416-736-2100 ext. 22097 / sandramc@yorku.ca