It was as informal an affair as honorary degree recipients would get during the University of Victoria's fall 2012 convocation.
A departure from the cap-and-gown pomp and fanfare at University Centre's Farquhar Auditorium last week, the Chancellor's Reception at the University Club Tuesday night gave honorands past and present an opportunity to socialize.
A popular topic was a rare deviation from traditional oration. It was when Dave Obee, the Times Colonist editor-in-chief who received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree, was introduced by Amor de Cosmos.
"I was kind of shocked because I thought he was dead," quipped Obee before praising Will Wei-gler's performance as B.C.'s first elected premier and British Colonist founder, and how Weigler explained Obee's role in upholding his legacy.
Obee, a genealogist and author of several books including Making the News: A Times Colonist Look at 150 Years of History, admitted it was hard not being emotional when he paid tribute to his father Brian, who died Oct. 30 at age 91.
"I had to be very careful because I was talking about how I got involved in history and the first way I got involved was through my father," he said. "He was an inspiration to me and he's suddenly gone and I have to talk about my inspiration."
Steven L. Point, who completed his five-year term as B.C.'s 28th lieutenant governor Nov. 2, received an Honorary Doctor of Laws, and his wife, Gwendolyn Rose Point, an Honorary Doctor of Education for their outstanding public service in promoting reconciliation and mutual understanding between settlers and indigenous British Columbians.
"I think we'll be able to use this recognition as part of our role modelling for other accomplishments," said Steven Point, who during his time in office worked to bring literacy to communities and widely promoted the importance of education.
"It says you can accomplish. You can do things. You simply have to keep on going with your objectives."
Gwendolyn Point, a social-work and history instructor at the University of the Fraser Valley who has promoted education and First Nations language renewal, said it was an honour standing together as a mutually supportive couple on such an occasion.
"There's always been that support going back and forth," she said. "When you love somebody you want the best for them."
Honorary Doctor of Science recipient Naomi Halas said she was honoured to be selected by "people who not only understand the kind of work we do, but the impact it can have on society."
Based at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Halas is best known as a pioneer in the emerging science of nanophotonics and is commercializing a photothermal cancer therapy based on nanoparticles she invented.
Some 116 guests nibbled on gourmet snacks including lamb chops, dolmades, smoked trout with aioli and chocolate mousse bites.
They were welcomed by Chancellor Murray Farmer, with Robert Anthony, convocation committee chairman, delivering opening remarks. David Turpin, UVic president and vice-chancellor, introduced the new honorands.
Past recipients included retired Victoria councillor Helen Hughes, Victoria's first lady of jazz Louise Rose, and celebrated contemporary artist Pat Martin Bates.
Rose, fresh from mentoring jazz vocalists in Lynnwood, Washington, deadpanned "not for a moment" when asked if she wished she were onstage with drummer Kelby MacNayr, bassist Sean Drabitt and pianist Brooke Maxwell as they entertained the university crowd.
Bates said being there fulfilled a cherished experience - seeing people get honorary degrees they've long deserved.
"The wheels of justice, in a sense, move slowly but they do move. Sometimes they get it right. That's what happened here."
© Copyright 2013