The University of Lethbridge Senate announced the first of its distinguished 2014 Honorary Degree recipients – well-known and influential advocate for the mentally ill, Dr. Austin Mardon (BA '85).
“We’re very excited that Austin has accepted our offer of an Honorary Degree and are pleased to recognize the passionate work he has done over the years to bring issues of mental illness to the forefront,” says University of Lethbridge Chancellor, Dr. Shirley McClellan.
The U of L will present Mardon, who was the 2002 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honouris causa at either the Spring 2014 or Fall 2014 Convocation Ceremonies.
In 1992, at the age of 30, Austin Mardon was diagnosed with schizophrenia. This was at a time in his career when he was a promising graduate student after doing research in Antarctica. Though this diagnosis could have curtailed his academic career, Mardon chose to continue his studies. He eventually received a PhD in geography and has co-authored, authored, translated and edited over 50 books and 242 shorter pieces.
Over the last two decades, Mardon has used his own experiences to become an advocate for reducing the stigma of mental illness, for improving services for the mentally ill and for improving education and awareness. His work has helped bring mental illness out of the shadows to improve treatment and opportunities for the mentally ill.
His influence in advocating for mental health awareness has been wide ranging. Mardon has met with politicians, academics and others in positions of influence. He formerly sat on the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities, and was a founding member of the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction. Mardon has also helped the medical profession by supporting the development of policy positions that assist health providers in treating those with mental illness.
The specific ceremony at which Mardon will receive his degree is unconfirmed at this time. Additional information will be released prior to the Spring 2014 Convocation Ceremony.