Raghwa Gopal Receiving UBC Okanagan Honorary Degree

News April 2, 2024

Posted by Alex Goodhew

Raghwa Gopal Receiving UBC Okanagan Honorary Degree Featured Image
Dr. Deborah Buszard, Raghwa Gopal and Ian Cull will receive honorary degrees from UBC Okanagan.

Three people, who have made contributions to the growth of the Okanagan region and more specifically UBC’s Okanagan campus, will be recognized this spring with honorary degrees during UBCO’s graduation celebrations on June 6 and 7.

A collage photo of Dr. Deborah Buszard, Ian Cull and Raghwa Gopal.


Honorary degrees are awarded by universities to recognize people who have made substantial contributions to society at the provincial, national or international levels. This year, UBCO is bringing these degrees to the local level, explains UBCO Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr. Lesley Cormack.

“This year we are proud to recognize three individuals who have contributed deeply to not only our university but to the Okanagan as a whole,” says Dr. Cormack.

Being honoured this year are Dr. Deborah Buszard, Ian Cull and Raghwa Gopal. Both Dr. Buszard and Cull have been instrumental in the development and growth of the Okanagan campus and Gopal has been a driving force for technological, entrepreneurial and economic innovation in the region.

“While a university’s primary role is to teach our students and conduct research, we also hope our university helps to inspire people—just as we have been inspired by Deborah, Ian and Raghwa,” says Dr. Cormack. “I am thrilled to see these honorary degrees presented to three people whose significant contributions have so positively shaped our community.”

During her eight-year tenure as Principal and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of UBC Okanagan, Dr. Buszard showed an unwavering dedication to helping the still young Okanagan campus transform into an institution with world-class academic programs and facilities.

Most recently, she led UBC as its Interim President, serving from 2022 to 2023. Throughout her UBC career, her leadership, advocacy and visionary approach has extended to the broader community and has fostered as well as strengthened the university’s relationships with the communities it serves, industries, health agencies and educational institutions within Canada and abroad.

“I am deeply honoured to receive this recognition and immensely grateful to the UBC Okanagan Senate for this award,” says Dr. Buszard. “I very much look forward to being in the company of Ian Cull and Raghwa Gopal when we celebrate with the 2024 graduating class.”

Cull has been described as a visionary and respected academic leader who has had an extraordinary and transformational impact on the lives of Indigenous students through his work at UBC Okanagan. He is a member of Dokis First Nation located in Nipissing Territory, Ontario and is recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions in the post-secondary sector.

Beginning in 2005, he led the creation of a range of Indigenous support systems and is responsible for the unique Access Studies Program, which provides a transformative experience for students that stays with them as they move into their degree studies and beyond.

“I would like to thank the UBC Okanagan Senate and those who nominated me for this honour,” says Cull. “I will strive to continue to be a worthy recipient. I acknowledge that our shared successes were only possible because of many skilled and committed people, for whom I am very grateful.”

Gopal has long been a driving force for technological innovation in the Okanagan region and served as a mentor and role model for new entrepreneurs and students. In 2012, he helped create Accelerate Okanagan, the region’s first local accelerator for startups, where he also served as Executive in Residence, and in 2015 he took on a more involved role as CEO.

He remains active in the tech and education industries, currently serving as a guest lecturer for the UBC Okanagan School of Engineering and the Faculty of Management and as an Advisory Board member for Sauder School of Business at UBC Vancouver.

“I am profoundly grateful to the University of British Columbia for this esteemed honour,” says Gopal. “It is a testament to the power of innovation and entrepreneurship in driving economic growth and societal progress. I am proud to have played a part in advancing these efforts in the region, and I look forward to continuing to support and inspire future generations of innovators.”

Dr. Buszard will receive her honorary degree at the 11 am graduation ceremony on June 6, and Ian Cull will receive his honorary degree at the 1:30 pm ceremony that same day. Raghwa Gopal will receive his honorary degree on Friday, June 7 at the 11 am ceremony.

UBC will honour 10 other remarkable individuals with honorary degrees this year. Along with the three to be presented at UBC Okanagan in June, other recipients include Academy Award-winning filmmaker Sarah Polley, human rights advocate Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, science-fiction writer William Gibson, and founding Director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation Ry Moran.

News Provided By

UBC Okanagan


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