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McGill Reporter
June 7, 2001 - Volume 33 Number 17
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Letter

To the editor:

The McGill Reporter is always good reading and I congratulate you for producing a well-balanced paper.

However, Sylvain-Jacques Desjardins' article on honorary degrees, in spite of being well-researched, had a paragraph (McGill Reporter, May 10, 2001), which can be misinterpreted.

The paragraph in question reads as follows:

"McGill's sole and very public slip-up occurred in January 2000, when a senator breached confidentiality by leaking to the media that John Cleghorn was rejected for an honorary degree. The leak was reported from coast to coast."

What is the source of this information? I am asking this because it really does not reflect the correct picture. Can the writer elaborate on this "leak" matter and its impact on the decision of not awarding an honorary degree to Mr. Cleghorn?

The way Mr. Pound is quoted in the paragraph following gives an impression that because of the "unfortunate situation" (slip-up) Mr. Cleghorn could not be awarded the honorary degree. The fact is that he was not approved the degree because sufficient numbers of senators rejected his candidacy for the award. If this is not the correct interpretation can the writer please clarify? I will appreciate Mr. Desjardins' clarification in the next issue of the McGill Reporter.

Jalaluddin S. Hussain
McGill Association of Continuing Education Students

Sylvain's reference to a "very public slip-up" is tied to the widespread publicity about the Cleghorn vote in Senate that resulted from the leak. Such votes are, as the article notes, supposed to be confidential so as to avoid any unnecessary embarrassment for proposed candidates.

The leak and the decision not to award the degree are, as you say, separate things. I don't think the article suggests that the honorary degree was denied because of the publicity. It's true that Chancellor Pound spoke about why he thinks Cleghorn was deserving of the honour in the article. Earlier in the piece, Sylvain mentioned that candidates are ultimately approved or rejected by Senate. Obviously, some senators disagreed with Pound.

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