Honorary degrees

Considered one of the most prestigious honors a university can bestow upon an individual; an honorary degree is meant to recognize an individual’s exceptional achievement or distinction in a field or activity in alignment with the mission of the institution.

In regard to honorary degrees bestowed by AUArts, the focus includes art, craft and design with possible expansion into the broader fields of creativity and innovation.

Honorary Degree Past Recipients


2023 Recipient: IAIN BAXTER&

IAIN BAXTER& is an internationally acclaimed conceptual artist. Born in Middlesbrough, England in 1936, he immigrated to Calgary, Canada in 1937. BAXTER& studied art and aesthetics in Japan in 1961, and completed a Masters of Fine Arts at Washington State University in 1964. He legally changed his name to IAIN BAXTER& (pronounced Baxterand), in part to reflect his fascination for the ampersand as a typographic mark.

BAXTER& formed the N.E. Baxter Thing Company, which in 1966 was transformed into the N.E. Thing Company or NETCO, through which he became widely known. He was the first Canadian artist to be on the cover of Art in America (May/June 1969), and he represented Canada at the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1969. Since then, his works have been shown in major institutions in over 200 exhibitions in Canada, England, France, Switzerland, Japan, and the USA.

IAIN BAXTER&’s achievements and contributions to the visual arts community in Canada and internationally have been recognized by numerous accolades such as: a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, 2004; the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, 2006; and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, 2012. His works have been widely collected in private collections around the world and in esteemed institutions including the Museum of Modern Art in New York; Gemeentemusem in The Hague, Holland; and the National Gallery of Canada. IAIN BAXTER& was a faculty member during the eighties.


2023 Recipient: Tracy Boychuk

Tracy Boychuk (Diploma ’92, Visual Communication) is the Creative Director and Founder of THE ROOF CROP INDUSTRIES, FARM + FOUNDATION as well as Runner Collective, Flashpoint Innovation Kitchen, and a managing partner in Hospitality 201.

Tracy began her career in the art department at Sony Music in New York. From there she served as Design Director for MTV’s Off-Air Creative Department and next as Senior Creative at RCA Records, sharing the responsibility with long-time design collaborator, Brett Kilroe. After her years in the music industry, Tracy left to become a founding partner for NYC award-winning design firm, Trooper Creative Associates.

Tracy currently collaborates and consults on all things branding and marketing through Runner Collective with clients from New York to Los Angeles, Canada and the UK. Her main focus is on managing and developing the series of urban roof top farms under The Roof Crop stewardship (Tracy has taken the respect for growing food from her farm raised father and adapted it to growing products – ranging from dahlias to tomatoes – on roofs in Chicago) and as a consulting Creative Director for the band The Strokes. Tracy co-founded the AUArts Brett Robinson Kilroe Scholarship for International Studies with the Herschel Supply Co. and her husband James Hughes.

Tracy Boychuk is the first graduate from the School of Communication Design to receive Alberta University of the Arts’ Honorary MFA.

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2022 Recipient: Ron Moppett

Born in England in 1945, he immigrated to Canada in 1957. He attended the Alberta College of Art (now Alberta University of the Arts) from 1963 to 1967, and the Instituto de Allende in Mexico in 1968. He was the curator at the Alberta College of Art in 1969, from 1975 to 1978, and from 1988 to 2004 was Director/Curator of the Illingworth Kerr Gallery of the Alberta College of Art + Design. His career has garnered many honours, exhibitions, publications and awards, including the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (1997), the Alberta Centennial Medal (2005), and the Alberta College of Art + Design Board of Governors’ Alumni Award of Excellence (2013). Important solo exhibitions include: Ron Moppett, Recent Work at the 49th Parallel, N.Y., in 1988 and two retrospective exhibitions: Ron Moppett at the Walter Philips Gallery, The Banff Centre, 1982; and Ron Moppett, Painting Nature with a Mirror, 1974-1989, Glenbow Museum, 1990. In 2015 his sculpture and installation work were the subject of a large survey curated by Christine Sowiak for the Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary, entitled Ron Moppett:Sculptur(al).

In 2016, selections of his artwork and artwork by his son Damian Moppett, also a prominent contemporary artist, were shown in Damian Moppett + Ron Moppett (Every Story Has Two Sides), shown at the Art Gallery of Alberta. The exhibition was shown in 2017 at the National Gallery of Canada as Masterpiece in Focus: Ron Moppett and Damian Moppett. Glenbow Museum presented Ron Moppett: Do You Remember/ Snow & Stars in 2020 as part of its One New Work series. This exhibition presented a monumental 22-metre-long wrap-around painting. In the fall of 2012 Ron Moppett unveiled THESAMEWAYBETTER/READER, a monumental mosaic tile wall work measuring approximately 110 feet long by 13 feet high in Calgary’s East Village. His paintings are represented in major corporate, private and public collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, Glenbow Museum, Mackenzie Art Gallery, and the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal 


2022 Recipient: Jeff de Boer

Calgary-born artist Jeff de Boer has, for the past 32 years, become world-famous for creating some of the most original and high-quality sculptures in the world. The son of a metal fabricator, Jeff grew up working in metal. Graduating with honours from the Jewellery and Metals Department of the then Alberta College of Art in 1988, Jeff went on to fuse jewellery-level quality and design to large-scale public art.

Best known for his authentic suits of armour for cats and mice, Jeff’s work is highly sought after by private collectors from around the world. Having completed some 3,000 projects, from small jewellery to large public works, Jeff has set the standard for professionalism in the arts. His public work can be found throughout Alberta, in multiple locations from parks and hospitals, to museums, shopping malls and airports.

Jeff has always given back to the arts community, be it as an instructor, lecturer or as a mentor to countless emerging artists. Jeff is currently on the Board of Directors for the National accessArts Centre and for Calgary Arts Development Authority.

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2021 Recipient: Chris Cran

Chris Cran is an internationally recognized painter who lives and works in Calgary, Alberta. His artwork explores issues of representation, on one hand related to the construction of personal and cultural identities, and on the other involving perceptual/cognitive illusion- both interests critically underpinned by a disarming and revelatory sense of humour. 

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2019 Recipient: Alex Janvier

Alex Janvier, Denesuline, from the Cold Lake First Nations, Treaty 6 Territory, has been a professional artist for several decades. Janvier is renowned for his distinct curved lines and use of bright colour combinations. His unique abstract style and his artistic ideas have blazed the trail for many First Nations and Canadian Artists. He received a Fine Arts Diploma with Honors in 1960 back when AUArts was Alberta College of Art and was the institution’s first Indigenous graduate.

2018 Recipients: Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka

2018 Recipients: Katie Ohe and Harry Kiyooka

Katie Ohe's works are interactive, abstract kinetic installations, mainly metal, and based on ideas from everyday experience. Driven by a lifelong desire to express thoughts and emotions, her sculptures compel viewers' fingers to set them in mesmerizing motion. Ohe's sculpture Janet's Crown (2001) is situated nearby, adjacent to the ACAD front entrance staircase.

Harry Kiyooka (1928-2022), was an accomplished painter and printmaker who as an artist inspired and influenced generations of artists through his teachings and art.

In 2007 Harry and his wife and fellow artist Katie Ohe created the Kiyooka Ohe Art Centre (KOAC), a gallery in Springbank focused on their their cultural legacy fullfilling a lifetime as teachers and artists dedicated to the education, creation and the promotion of contemporary art. In 2018 Harry and Katie were awarded AUArts Honorary Master of Fine Arts degrees.

The "Harry Kiyooka" exhibition pays tribute to Harry's legacy and career displaying art according to light and colour. His study of light is the one constant throughout all of his series including portraits, landscapes and abstractions. He was inspired by how light affects colours at different times of the day.

2017 Recipient: Sharon Carry

2017 Recipient: Sharon Carry

Sharon Carry has been a long-standing and tireless advocate of institutional collaborations across Alberta including the Artstream program between ACAD and Bow Valley College (BVC). While not a practicing artist or designer, Sharon is a creative problem solver and advocate of the arts and art and design education.