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McGill Reporter
February 10, 2000 - Volume 32 Number 10
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| Following the breach of confidentiality from the January 19 Senate meeting, regarding John Cleghorn's nomination for an honorary degree not being approved, Senate voted unanimously last week to accept a resolution from political science professor Sam Noumoff.

Noumoff resolved "that this house regards such an action as both reprehensible and inconsistent with the responsibilities of membership, and therefore invokes the most severe censure against the person or persons who are responsible for the violation."

Associate dean of science Morton Mendelson, with the unanimous support of Senate, amended the resolution, calling "upon the person or persons to resign from Senate."

To the embarrassment of the University and, possibly, of John Cleghorn, chair and chief executive officer of the Royal Bank, the breach of confidentiality resulted in the news being reported on Jan. 24 in The McGill Daily, then picked up by several major dailies and radio and television news outlets.

In a public statement sent out shortly after the Cleghorn story began circulating, Principal Bernard Shapiro declared, "I want to make it absolutely clear that at no time did Mr. Cleghorn ever solicit such recognition, nor was he even aware that the subject was under discussion. I can also say with complete assurance that this devoted citizen of the McGill community has never, and never would, try to influence McGill inappropriately for his own benefit or for the benefit of the [Royal] Bank."

Cleghorn is a member of McGill's Board of Governors and served as chair of the Twenty-First Century Fund campaign that raised more than $205 million for the University. He is also the chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University.

"John Cleghorn has been a tireless and unconditional supporter of McGill for many years. It is indeed hard to think of another alumnus who has contributed more to the faculty, staff and students of this institution than he has," Shapiro added in his statement.

"In my view, which I know is shared by many, many people on campus, it is the University which would be honoured by celebrating the achievements of such an exceptional human being."

But at least seven senators disagreed. That's all it takes to squash a proposed honorary degree, which has prompted speculation that the statute, dating back to 1934, might be changed. Back in 1934, seven votes represented about 25 per cent of Senate's members.

According to media accounts, the senators who voted against Cleghorn did so principally due to feeling uncomfortable with the Royal Bank's practices. "There were some who asked whether we should wait a few years because the Royal Bank has just made $1.8 billion in profit, and, at the same time [is] laying off 6,000 employees," one unnamed senator told The Gazette.

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