Honorary degree citation - Harold Rocke Robertson*
By: J.W. O’Brien, June 1971
I have the honour to present to you Dr. Harold Rocke Robertson, a Canadian who is doubly distinguished - as a man of medicine and also as an educator.
Dr. Rocke Robertson has shared his career between British Columbia and Quebec - apart from five war years spent in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps. Born in Victoria, he received his early education mainly in British Columbia, but he graduated from McGill and interned at the Montreal General Hospital. After his discharge from the R.C.A.M.C. with the rank of lieutenant colonel, he became Chief of Surgery at the Shaugnessy Hospital in Vancouver, and then Chief of Surgery at the Vancouver General Hospital and Professor of Surgery at the University of British Columbia. In 1959, however, he returned to McGill and the Montreal General, combining the position of University Professor of Surgery and Chairman of the Department with that of Hospital Surgeon in Chief. In 1962, he was appointed Principal and Vice Chancellor of McGill, a most demanding assignment that he fulfilled for eight years with great dedication and - I speak as a close witness - with considerable effect. In the past year Montreal has lost Dr. Robertson to Ottawa, where he is now associated with the Science Council of Canada. In 1969, he was named a Companion of the Order of Canada.
Though we have great appreciation of Dr. Robertson's achievement as a medical man, it is not primarily for this that the University wishes to honour him today. Rather, it is for his sustained efforts in the field of higher education, and his service thereby not merely to his own university, but to all universities in Quebec, in Canada and, indeed, to the broader community. Such service is symbolized by his six year membership of the executive committee of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and his active role in developing the Conference of Rectors and Principals of the Universities of Quebec, of which he was president from 1968 to 1970. But beyond the man in office we would wish to pay tribute to the man himself, always frank and outspoken on behalf of the causes and purposes that he deemed to merit support. He has been a good leader at a time when leadership has been greatly needed.
Mr. Chancellor, I am honoured to present to you, on behalf of the University Council, and by the authority of the Board of Governors, Dr. Harold Rocke Robertson, distinguished educator, that you may confer on him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.