Saint Mark’s College to Confer 2016 Honorary Doctorate to Retired Neurosurgeon, Humanitarian Dr. Felix Durity

Vancouver, BC – MARCH 24, 2016 – Saint Mark’s College at UBC is pleased to announce that Dr. Felix Durity, a retired neurosurgeon, previous Head of Neurosurgery and Professor Emeritus in UBC’s Department of Surgery and a committed humanitarian, will be awarded the institution’s highest honour, the Doctor of Sacred Letters (honoris causa).

The degree will be conferred by the Most Reverend J. Michael Miller, CSB, Archbishop of Vancouver and Chancellor of Saint Mark’s College, at the College’s upcoming convocation, to be held at Saint Mark’s College Chapel on May 7, 2015, at 1:30 pm.

This honour recognizes Dr. Durity’s long-time commitment to humanitarian endeavours, including his enormous contributions to Neurosurgery, particularly in developing countries, and his wide-ranging efforts towards combating social injustices across the world.

The first resident to be trained in Neurosurgery at UBC, Dr. Durity has dedicated his life to providing the best possible neurosurgical care for the people of British Columbia and beyond. Specializing in difficult and complex operations, he has spent his career educating the next generation of clinicians and researchers in BC and Canada, and collaborating with local partners to develop programs for neurological care in West Africa. For these activities, he was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2005

Dr. Durity is a co-founder of a Neurosciences Centre of Excellence at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana, and became a founding director of the Korle-Bu Neuroscience Foundation, Canada, which helps raise funds for specialized medical equipment. Through Dr. Durity’s and colleagues’ collaborative efforts, more than $1M of equipment has been re-serviced from local Vancouver hospitals and deployed in West Africa. Since his retirement, he has travelled often to Ghana to mentor its neurosurgeons, especially helping them establish trans-sphenoidal surgery for pituitary tumours. He was instrumental in developing an ongoing Neurosurgical Training Program in Ghana, now successfully graduating much needed and locally well-trained neurosurgeons to deliver critical brain and spinal cord care.

A strong supporter of the mission and future of the Catholic Colleges at UBC, Dr. Durity is also a long-time, highly active community member of St. Mark’s Parish at UBC. He sits on theSt. Mark’s Social Justice ministry and is the regional Vice-Chair of the Archdiocese of Vancouver’s chapter of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP), the international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada, which is the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis.

Through his work with CCODP, Dr. Durity collaborates to raise funds for various projects such as the annual Share Lent campaign, which works with local partners to support sustainable community development programs in the Global South and provides emergency relief in response to catastrophes around the world, such as the earthquake in Haiti, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and, more recently, the refugee and migrant crisis in the Middle East.

“Dr. Durity is very humble and does not seek to draw attention to his humanitarian works. He reluctantly accepted our offer of an Honorary Degree to draw attention to social justice issues, and we are honoured that he has accepted,” says Saint Mark’s College Principal, Dr. Peter Meehan. “His story is one of applying the social teaching of the Catholic Church in very real, and practical ways. He very much exemplifies the values and mission of Saint Mark’s College, and serves as an inspiration to all who seek to put their faith into action and help to build a better world, whether through their professional or volunteer efforts.”

Dr. Durity also leads St. Mark’s Parish Refugee Sponsorship Program, which is currently sponsoring Syrian families. He coordinates several parish-driven charitable efforts, including an annual Christmas food and clothes drive, and contributes to fundraising for Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Africa which runs elementary schools in Zimbabwe. Working with others in the parish, and after reaching out to local knitting clubs within the city, he has been instrumental in distributing over 500 knitted toques for premature babies in developing countries such as Cambodia, Uganda, and Vietnam to help these babies preserve essential body heat and increase their survival rates by preventing crippling hypothermia.

Dr. Durity personally supports a secondary school, Alexandra High School, in an impoverished area of Pietermaritzburg, Kwazulu-Natal Province, South Africa, and sponsors six girls and one boy through World Vision and Chalice, the Catholic International Children Aid Society.

Contact: Elizabeth Morse, Communications, Saint Mark’s College

604.822.4463 | emorse@corpuschristi.ca