Meet the Honorary Degree Recipients of Spring 2024

May 24, 2024 | Hamilton, ON
Contributed by McMaster University

Climate change. Education. Health, nutrition, scholarship and tech innovation. McMaster’s spring convocation ceremonies will see leaders and thinkers across many disciplines recognized for their tremendous accomplishments and contributions to our communities and our world.

Here’s a look at the DeGroote School of Business distinguished recipients of honorary degrees this Spring:


DeGroote School of Business | Friday, June 14, 9:30 a.m. 

Claudette McGowan is a global information technology leader with more than 20 years of success leading digital transformations, optimizing infrastructure and designing new approaches that improve service and cybersecurity experiences. She is the founder and CEO of Protexxa, a cybersecurity platform that leverages AI to rapidly identify, evaluate, predict and resolve cyber issues for employees.

McGowan is also an active leader in the Canadian innovation ecosystem: She founded the Black Arts & Innovation Expo, and is chair of the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR), a group of senior business leaders committed to fighting systemic racism within the innovation economy. She co-led the launch of Phoenix Fire and The Firehood, a multi-million-dollar women-focused angel fund and network for women in technology.

In 2020, McGowan was selected as an honoree at the Jamaican Canadian Association’s 20th International Women’s Day event for her groundbreaking work in STEM. She has also been recognized by Toronto Life as one of the city’s Top 50 Most Influential Torontonians; and Women’s Executive Network recognized her as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada.

In September 2019, McGowan moderated a one-on-one conversation with Michelle Obama in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,000-plus at the Elevate Festival.

McGowan also serves on the boards of Air Canada, BlackNorth Initiative, MaRS, Sick Kids Hospital Foundation and the University of New Brunswick Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity.


DeGroote School of Business | Friday, June 14, 2:30 p.m. 

Business leader and philanthropist Walter Schroeder earned an MBA at McMaster in 1969. A few years later, he developed an idea for a new Canadian-based bond rating agency called the Dominion Bond Rating Service. Starting with $1,000 in working capital, he built the company into one of the world’s premier bond rating agencies, with offices around the globe.

Since the sale of his company in 2014, Schroeder has devoted his time to philanthropy in health and education, particularly helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds. In 2015, he and his wife established the Walter and Maria Schroeder Foundation, devoting resources to improving health services for all Canadians.

Their philanthropy includes the establishment of the Walter & Maria Schroeder Institute for Brain Innovation and Recovery with a $20-million gift to the Toronto Rehab Foundation and a $10-million gift in 2020 to McMaster to fast-track research in search of a cure for allergic diseases. This gift established the Schroeder Allergy and Immunology Research Institute to support scientific allergy investigation.

In Winnipeg, where he grew up, Schroeder funds and operates a school cafeteria, which provides subsidized and free breakfast and warm lunches to more than 200 students daily. He has also started a homework club for students who need added attention. Additionally, he funds hundreds of merit awards and post-secondary scholarships each year for Winnipeg youth.

Schroeder also started a production company and works as an executive producer of documentaries and musicals and has invested heavily in the arts in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In 2022, Schroeder received the Horatio Alger Award, awarded to outstanding Canadians “who have triumphed over adversity and who encourage young people in Canada to pursue their dreams through higher education.”

Click here for stories, videos and highlights from Spring 2024 convocation ceremonies and celebration events.

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