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Community Alumni Teaching & Learning

Honorary Degree Bestowed Upon Dr. Marlene Smadu

14 June 2024
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Recognized provincially, nationally, and internationally for her lifelong commitment and contribution to the nursing profession, Saskatchewan-born Dr. Marlene Smadu is an exemplary recipient of the Honorary Degree - Doctor of Laws honoris causa (LLD) from the University of Regina.

“I am deeply honoured to receive an honorary degree from the University of Regina, an institution that I have been associated with in many ways for over 50 years starting with my first paid summer job as a clerk at Extension Division on College Avenue Campus.  The University of Regina has played a significant role in my life and the lives of my family members, contributing to our well-being and quality of life.”

You have one life so embrace it fully, pursue your dreams and opportunities, take risks, discover the world and your place in it, and have the courage to do the right thing. — Dr. Marlene Smadu, honorary degree recipient

Throughout her illustrious career, Smadu has helped define the role of nursing in Saskatchewan. She started her career as a registered nurse at Regina’s Pasqua Hospital in 1973. Since then, she has held nursing, administrative and educator positions in health and in nursing programs at three post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan, including the University of Regina.  Her roles with the U of R included being a member and Chair of the University’s Board of Governors and a member of senate.

She has served as Executive Director, with the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA), and as Assistant Deputy Minister of Health and Provincial Nursing Advisor with the Government of Saskatchewan and as founding board member and Chair of the Saskatchewan Health Quality Council.

Nationally, Smadu has served in a variety of roles including President of the Canadian Nurses Association, board member of the Canadian Institute for Health Information, chair of the Advisory Committee of Professional Development and Education, Canadian Patient Safety Institute, member of the Strategic Planning Committee, Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, and Co-Chair of the National Expert Commission on Health Care.

She has contributed to the nursing profession internationally as Canadian representative to the International Council of Nurses (ICN) meetings in Yokohama, Japan, as board and executive member of ICN and in leading strategic planning at the ICN Council of National Representatives in Malta. 

A person in a yellow jacket
Honorary degree recipient Dr. Marlene Smadu. Photo Courtesy 

U of R Photography.

“The University is proud to award this honorary degree to Dr. Marlene Smadu – someone who has dedicated her life and career to our health care system, and in particular, the noble profession of nursing,” said U of R President and Vice-Chancellor Jeff Keshen.

Smadu has been the recipient of many honours including: the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal, the Canadian Nurses Association Order of Merit for Nursing Policy, the Saskatchewan Health Care Excellence Award, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research/Canadian Health Services Research Foundation Chair in Nursing Human Resources Award, and the Chief’s Necklace award, from the Premier of East Sepik Province, Wewak, Papa New Guinea. She was also awarded an honorary degree from the University of Calgary.

Smadu’s educational achievements include receiving a diploma and Bachelor of Science in Nursing, a Master of Adult Education, and a Doctor of Education. Smadu continues to serve the U of R and the healthcare profession as Executive-in-Residence, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy.

“My parents were firm believers in education and supported my siblings and me in pursuing our dreams through education.  I found out early that I loved learning – loved universities – and have always been supported by my husband and children to continue my education and pursue the many opportunities within nursing, health care, education, and leadership.

“I have always had a community of people—many of them nurses – who collaborated with me, guided, mentored, coached, and supported me, bringing to life the adage, ‘if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.’”

Smadu is a co-founder, of RaiseHER Community, an intergenerational, for-impact social movement to empower women to unleash their leadership potential, together with her daughter, Talitha Smadu McCloskey, and colleagues Skylar Gerard and Gwen Keith. She has also volunteered with a variety of organizations including the Canadian Cancer Society, the Saskatchewan Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Regina Exhibition Association.

A group of people in graduation gowns
Dr. Marlene Smadu addresses the convocation audience. Photo Courtesy U of R Communications and Marketing.

Dr. Smadu provides these insights to graduating students, “This isn’t dress rehearsal! You have one life so embrace it fully, pursue your dreams and opportunities, take risks, discover the world and your place in it, and have the courage to do the right thing.  You have a chance every day to make those you encounter feel better about themselves and become stronger, so be generous and kind and those qualities will ripple out to your family, community, and the world.”

Banner Photo: Dr. Marlene Smadu receives honorary degree at the U of R Spring 2024 Convocation. Photo Courtesy U of R Communications and Marketing.

About the University of Regina

2024 marks our 50th anniversary as an independent University (although our roots as Regina College date back more than a century!). As we celebrate our past, we work towards a future that is as limitless as the prairie horizon. We support the health and well-being of our 16,700 students and provide them with hands-on learning opportunities to develop career-ready graduates – more than 90,000 alumni enrich communities in Saskatchewan and around the globe. Our research enterprise has grown to 21 research centres and 9 Canada Research Chairs. Our campuses are on Treaties 4 and 6 - the territories of the nêhiyawak, Anihšināpēk, Dakota, Lakota, and Nakoda peoples, and the homeland of the Michif/Métis nation. We seek to grow our relationships with Indigenous communities to build a more inclusive future.

Let’s go far, together.

Learn More

Learn more about the U of R’s honorary degrees

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On July 1, 2024, we will begin a year long celebration of our 50th Anniversary and we invite everyone to join us.