Dr. Janice Heard: Take the fork in the road whenever possible

On Thursday morning we held the convocation ceremony for the fall 2016 University of Calgary graduates in Medicine, Environmental Design, Business, Kinesiology, Nursing, Engineering and Science. During this ceremony, we also conferred the Order of the University of Calgary on Dr. Janice Heard. The Order honours individuals who have provided significant and distinguished service to our institution. Janice is a worthy recipient of the prestigious award, having served the aims of the University of Calgary in an exemplary fashion for many years. Her work as a clinical professor and her leadership of one of our international projects has brought honour to our university.

Janice also delivered an inspiring and heartfelt convocation address to our graduands who are now embarking on the next phase of their lives.

I learned that it was University of Calgary senator Susan Ditchburn who led the nomination of Janice for the Order of the University of Calgary. Susan herself is a remarkable Albertan and proud supporter of our university. Susan and her husband Peter have known Janice since she was a child. I asked them if they would share their thoughts about Janice as well as some of the highlights of Janice’s convocation address. This is what they had to say:

Dr. Janice Heard receives Order of the University of Calgary

Dr. Janice Heard receives Order of the University of Calgary

We were at Convocation yesterday where we joined the family and friends of Dr. Janice Heard in celebrating her appointment to the Order of the University of Calgary. It is a great pleasure to honour her for her compassionate and thoughtful work.

We have known Janice since she was a small child as Peter taught at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, which Janice attended. Peter succeeded Janice’s father – Sandy Heard – as Head of School. Janice’s mother Lois Haskayne and her husband Richard are well-known and generous supporters of the University of Calgary.

Janice is one of five siblings, two of whom are physicians and all of them are making substantive contributions to the city through their professional roles and through volunteering and philanthropy. It is a close-knit family.

At school Janice excelled in academics and athletics. The school community service program and early exposure to social justice issues at home and overseas were a catalyst for her ongoing commitment. In fact, Janice flew home the night before Convocation from Laos where she has been working for several years with University of Calgary colleagues and other colleagues in the field to support maternal and child health and education. When a village in Laos was devastated in a hurricane, Janice stepped in to raise the needed funds to rebuild the school complete with toilets, running water and computers.

Janice has given her time and expertise at home as well at the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) and CUPS One-World Child Development Centre as a consultant pediatrician. She and her husband Bruce MacFarlane believe in active support of the community with hands-on work and financial support.

Janice and Bruce have three daughters and a number of grandchildren. Daughter Erin now teaches at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, Alex is a physician and Beth is a teacher in Calgary. All three are Strathcona-Tweedsmuir graduates.

Janice is personable, understated, warm and engaging. Despite her many accomplishments she has not lost the ability to connect with all: her genuine interest, humility and easy manner make her a great listener and confidant. You can always count on Janice.

For example, when it was recently learned that the honorary degree recipient for the morning fall convocation would be unable to attend the ceremony, Janice agreed to step in and give the convocation address even though she was leaving that night for Laos. The address that she delivered encouraged graduands to seize opportunities throughout life. She also spoke candidly about burnout – in her case she was on the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Board when the avalanche tragedy in 2003 took the lives of seven students on an outdoor education trip. However, she took time off, received the help she needed and intentionally re-evaluated her life – she heeded the tried and true advice too little followed, “Physician heal thyself”.

When we reached out to Janice’s colleagues to solicit letters of support for her nomination, all were delighted to be asked. Their letters attest to the worthiness of Dr. Janice Heard to receive this prestigious distinction. It was an honour for us to celebrate with her and her family when the Chancellor made the presentation at Convocation yesterday – Dr. Janice Heard was awarded by her alma mater, an honour so richly deserved.

UCalgary Senator Susan Ditchburn

UCalgary Senator Susan Ditchburn

2 thoughts on “Dr. Janice Heard: Take the fork in the road whenever possible

  1. Thanks for the commentary about Janice’s life and contributions. She is truly representative of the values that the University of Calgary espouses. In all of her work and service, she is a quiet servant of the community. To have dedicated so much of her energy and wisdom to so many complex societal issues-especially facing children-is so very admirable. I was most humbled to hear her and to see her receive this wonderful honour.

    Jill Wyatt

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