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The university's Board of Governors has voted to give James Stanford, former chief executive officer of Petro-Canada, an honorary degree at June convocation. This decision does not go down well with some members of the university.
The dissidents see an honorary degree to Stanford, who in 1998 on behalf of Petro-Canada pledged a $250,000 gift to Concordia, as part of a trend in which corporate donations are rewarded with honorary degrees. But university administrators say that Stanford was selected because he is a role model for students.
Almost the same arguments for and against were made 26 years ago when David Azrieli, a developer famous for demolishing the 105-year-old Van Horne mansion in 1973, was awarded an honorary doctorate nine months after he made a donation to the university.
Then, as is the case now, the university was going through financial difficulty and Azrieli's donation (also of $250,000) came in handy. The student union, with the assistance of many faculty members, organized a counter-convocation ceremony a day before the university convocation. It received media coverage, but the university still honoured Azrieli.
Will it happen again this year? Will history repeat itself?
Copyright 2000 Concordia's Thursday Report.