Oct. 24, 2023

Honorary degree and Order of the University of Calgary recipients announced for fall 2023 convocation 

A message to the campus community  
From left: Colleen Bangs, Tegan Quin, Sara Quin.
From left: Colleen Bangs, Tegan Quin, Sara Quin.

UCalgary Chancellor Jon Cornish and President Ed McCauley are pleased to announce the Honorary Doctor of Laws (Hon. LLD) and Order of the University of Calgary recipients for the fall 2023 convocation ceremony.  

The honorary degree is the University of Calgary’s highest academic distinction and is bestowed upon individuals whose notable achievements and community service merit recognition. The distinguished recipient addresses our graduating class at the convocation ceremony, sharing words of wisdom they have gained through years of excellence and leadership in their field.  

The Order of the University of Calgary recipient has a record of exemplary and distinguished service to the university. The nominee can be a current or past member of the university community.  

Hon. LLD recipient 

Sara Quin
Conferral and address – Thursday, Nov. 16, 9:30 a.m. ceremony  

Sara Quin, part of the pop-indie band Tegan and Sara, grew up just down the hall from her identical twin sister Tegan. Sara was a keen reader and writer from her early years, often crafting stories on the family computer. During their time at Crescent Heights High School, Sara and Tegan formed their first band, Plunk. Dubbing copies of their first demo in her bedroom, Sara hand drew the artwork for So Who’s in Your Band. The next day she sold a dozen tapes at school, launching their first merchandise company. 

Sara moved to Montreal in 2002, where she was inspired by the burgeoning indie rock scene. Under her guidance, Tegan and Sara produced a series of indie rock albums that would change the course of both their lives. Their song, Walking With A Ghost made it to the top 10 on Alternative Radio in the U.S. and was covered by the White Stripes. 

Over the years, Sara and Tegan have shared stages with renowned artists like Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Paramore, and Neil Young. They have also performed on some of the world’s biggest stages, including Coachella, Lollapalooza, and the Academy Awards. 

In 2016, Sara and her sister founded the Tegan and Sara Foundation, aimed at improving the lives of LGBTQ+ women and girls. This initiative upholds their commitment to feminism and racial, social, and gender justice. In 2018, both sisters received a Governor General's Performing Arts Award and the New York Civil Liberties Union Award. 

Sara lives in Vancouver with her wife, Stacy, and their son, Sid. She continues to record music and write books with Tegan, their most recent work being Junior High, a graphic novel created in collaboration with award-winning illustrator Tillie Walden and premiere publisher FSG. 

Hon. LLD recipient 

Tegan Quin
Conferral and address – Thursday, Nov. 16, 9:30 a.m. ceremony  

Tegan Quin, one half of the celebrated pop-indie duo Tegan and Sara, grew up in northeast Calgary. Initially showing prowess in science and math, her true passion emerged in junior high when she gravitated toward music, literature, and socializing. Alongside her twin sister, Sara, Tegan began secretly composing songs on their stepdad’s acoustic guitar and recording them in their basement. Encouraged by her broadcasting and communications teacher, Mr. Lee, Tegan's school project transformed into a demo tape, marking the beginning of her and Sara's illustrious music career. 

After high school, Tegan relocated to Vancouver and signed to Vapor Records, Neil Young’s imprint label. Alongside Sara, she toured the globe as an indie rock duo. The partnership has sold over a million records, released 10 studio albums, and garnered various Grammy, GLAAD, Polaris, and Juno nominations and awards. Notable among their achievements is their seventh studio album, Heartthrob, featuring the hit Closer. Their songs have been featured in TV shows like Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Girls, and Heartstopper.  

In 2016, Tegan, together with Sara, founded the Tegan and Sara Foundation. This initiative, rooted in the sisters' commitment to feminism and social justice, aims to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ women and girls.  

Tegan and her wife, Sofia, divide their time between Vancouver and Pender Island. She has expanded her creative pursuits to include writing, evidenced by the New York Times bestseller High School, a memoir about growing up in Calgary in the '90s, co-authored with Sara, which has been adapted into an Amazon TV series. 

Order of the University of Calgary recipient 

Colleen Bangs
Presentation – Thursday, Nov. 16, 2 p.m ceremony  

Colleen Bangs, senior director of alumni engagement at the University of Calgary, is a transformative leader who has dedicated over 12 years of her career to the University of Calgary. During this time, Bangs has been a beacon of innovation and collaboration. 

Bangs’s leadership philosophy, rooted in a "servant-leader" approach, has guided her in being a leader to over 70 team members throughout her time at the university.  Her focus has always been on culture and developing people, both personally and professionally. 

For her dedication to fostering a positive work environment, strengthening community connections, and promoting personal and professional growth, Bangs will be recognized with the Order of the University of Calgary at the 2023 fall convocation ceremonies. 

Bangs’s commitment to mentorship is evident in her ongoing engagement with prospective students, especially those connected to alumni or friends of the university. She often delivers personal tours of the campus or guides students through their strengths assessments, embodying the university's Start Something spirit. 

Her passion for equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility is deeply ingrained in her work. Bangs believes in the inherent value of every individual and strives to create an environment where everyone feels a sense of belonging. This commitment extends to her involvement with initiatives like the It Gets Better U of C campaign, aimed at combating homophobia and transphobia. 

As a presenter for the Canadian Council for Advancement in Education (CCAE), Bangs has shared her insights on alumni engagement data at the 2018 national conference, participated as a panellist in the 2021 CCAeTalks webinar on leading teams during the pandemic, and presented at the 2023 Alumni Leaders Summit on collaboration and integrated planning. Her contributions to these platforms attest to her desire to exchange knowledge across disciplines, a key aspect of entrepreneurial thinking. 

Bangs’s tenure at the University of Calgary has been marked by her tireless dedication and remarkable leadership. Of particular note are her efforts to make convocation a special day for all. She has been instrumental in fostering a positive and engaged community, and her legacy will continue to inspire current and future members of the university community. 

Bangs is the proud mother of Aidan and Ava, who are both away at university. She credits her husband, Mike, with being a "pretty special guy" who has often stood back so she can give as much as she does. 

Nominations for honorary degree and Order of the University of Calgary recipients are open year-round. Nominate someone who has made significant contributions to their field or to our community now.  

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