Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 28, No.7

December 4, 2003


Two ceremonies for 1,582 fall graduates

By Barbara Black

For the first time, fall convocation will take the form of two ceremonies, both tomorrow, Dec. 5, in the Salle Wilfrid Pelletier of Place des Arts. A total of 1,582 students will graduate.

The morning ceremony will be given over to the Faculty of Arts and Science, and includes the awarding of honorary doctorates to Natalie Zemon Davis, Leonard Ellen and Jill Ker Conway.

At 2:30 p.m., it will be the turn of the other three faculties, and the presentation of honorary doctorates to Ronald Lawless, Jean-Paul Morin and Justice John Major. For more on the recipients, please see our article in this issue.

The Governor-General’s Gold Medal, awarded to the outstanding graduate at the master’s or doctoral level, goes to psychologist Alfonso Abizaid. We interviewed him by e-mail at the Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, where he is doing postdoctoral work.

His thesis focused on how changes in energy balance affect reproduction in female rats. “We used lactation as a model, because during lactation a mother rat (and a human mother) is faced with nourishing her young as well as keeping her own energy in check.

“One way in which rat moms do this is by increasing the amount of food they eat, and by decreasing the probability of getting pregnant again before their young are ready to be weaned. The latter mechanism is particularly important if the food that is available from the environment is scarce.”

Alfonso was born in Mexico City, but he considers himself a Montrealer. “I first came to Canada as a teenager going to summer camp (Camp Wilvaken in Magog), and there I met many friends and learned English and French, and later met my wife Susan Leslie.

“I decided to go to Concordia because after careful consideration I preferred the student/teacher ratio compared to that at McGill, and the fact that I had a lot of choices for scheduling my courses so I could also work while studying. I think that this proved to be the right decision.”

Alfonso will be in Montreal to give the valedictory speech at the morning convocation.

“I think that the message that I will try to convey is that education at Concordia, even in the toughest economic times that were evident in the early 1990s, was outstanding, and I am thankful to all faculty, staff, and fellow students for making it such a wonderful experience for me,” he said.

The afternoon valedictorian is Bella Galperin, who is also getting a PhD. She did a master’s of science in administration at Concordia, and then went into a doctoral program. Now she is teaching at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Florida.

Her dissertation, called “Determinants of Deviance in the Workplace: An Empirical Examination in Canada and Mexico,” argues that the failure to understand and manage deviance in the workplace in a creative way can be perilous for companies and for the economy at large.