Honorary degree citation - Robert Alan Speirs*
By: J.W. O'Brien, November 1968
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Robert Alan Speirs, Headmaster of Selwyn House School.
Born in Melrose, Scotland, and educated in that country, he graduated as Master of Arts with Honours in Classics from the University of Edinburgh. He entered the profession of teacher, a calling in which he has remained to the present day. He taught at George Watson's Boy's College and the Royal High School of Edinburgh, and was head of the Department of Classics at Peebles High School.
True to the tradition that has left the mark of Scotland on the four corners of the earth, his steps at length turned toward North America. His first venture was to the United States, where on a Macy Exchange Fellowship he took a Master's degree at Columbia University in 1932. After four years of reflection upon these researches into North American life, he reached the decision, in 1936, to come to Montreal. He took up the post of Head of the Department of English at Lower Canada College, where he later became Vice Principal. In 1945 he became Headmaster of Selwyn House School, the position he continues to hold.
We honour him this afternoon as a man who, throughout a lifetime of service to education, has maintained, a standard of education in the broadest sense. He has believed in a high standard of academic attain¬ment, and has passed this same respect to those who have studied under his supervision. His acknowledgement of the moral and spiritual principles that underlie our tradition has enlightened his teaching and left its mark upon several generations of boys.
We honour him also as a man whose service to the community has gone well beyond the field of his own profession. He is a past-president of the Community Council of Notre Dame de Grace, the St. James Literary Society, and the Fraser Hickson Public Library. For many years he served as a governor of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and as a member of the Senate of the Presbyterian College of Montreal.
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of the University Council and by authority of the Board of Governors, I present to you Robert Alan Speirs that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.